HC Deb 28 March 1904 vol 132 cc864-905

in asking leave to bring in a Bill to amend the laws relating to education in Scotland and for other purposes connected therewith, said, I do not think I need offer any apology to the House for taking one more step forward in regard to Scotch education in what I hope may be a direction consonant with Scotch tradition and Scotch wont. We have in Scotland in the matter of education the most valuable asset which a people can have and that is, we have a people who are anxious to be educated, and we are, through the developments of the past, singularly free from that religious difficulty which has tended so much to obscure the true cause of education elsewhere. We are all proud of, and many of us look back with a sort of affectionate regret, to the days of the old parish schoolmaster. His success consisted in two things — to a great extent it consisted in his own ability as a teacher; and it consisted also in the fact that in those quiet days he could pick out the best boy and give the best of himself to bring that boy to a stage far above his fellows. Education in his hands did not stop at any particular standard, but it went on as long as the boy was with him and as far as their mutual ability permitted. Accordingly, when we come to modern times, and when we look at the Act of 1872 under which our modern education has been carried on, we shall find that throughout that Act there never is mention in one single sentence of those phrases which are no doubt convenient enough — I mean the phrases primary and secondary education. It is education that is spoken of and education alone. That Act worked into the School Board system the old burgh schools which — using the words as convenient nomenclature — we should properly designate as secondary schools. Under that Act there has grown up a very natural development of the same idea in the adding to many of the ordinary schools of a higher department. Since the time of the passing of that Act there has grown up a pressing need, which is every day accentuated, of provision for technical education. The Scotch people have, in so far as in them lay, fully recognised that they are anxious to march with the spirit of the time, and accordingly they have given of the Imperial funds which come to Scotland to further in various ways the cause of education. It is not for us Scotchmen to forget that it was in obedience to the Scotch demand that free education in the primary grades, which has now come upon the Imperial Exchequer all over the country, was first conceded. Time and again, when money which has been placed at Scotch disposal under what is known as the Equivalent Grant, a very considerable sum of that money has been given to the cause of education. But the piecemeal development has naturally had its defects. Those defects are principally of two classes. They rather encouraged the tendency of educational institutions to overlap, and, in the distribution of money, between the clamant cries of burghs and counties I here has also been the danger—sometimes, I am afraid, not at all unreal— that money for such subjects as technical education has been frittered away because of the very smallness of the contribution to a particular neighbourhood.

Now, I think a consideration of these two defects and of the Scotch idea which I have touched upon, really supplies us with the key of the situation. What you obviously need in a proper educational system is that there should be, first of all, a comprehensive survey of the needs all over a particular district. Facilities within that district should be provided which are suitable to the locality with which you are dealing, you should be able to avoid wasteful overlapping of educational effort, and one authority should control all the different branches of what is truly one education. You must look at the student's career as a whole, and not look upon it as cut up into primary, intermediary, secondary, University, and so on, and you must have adequate local knowledge on your controlling body to thoroughly provide for local needs. If you can carry out scheme of that so it then it seems to me that you preserve the old Scottish idea of there being no division in the different portions of a career in education, and, at the same time, you adapt it to modern circumstances which make the old situation of parish schoolmasters impossible. Now, if I have carried the House along with me so far, I really think that much that comes after will follow truly as a corollary of that first position. In the first place, it is quite evident that the present system of School Boards in Scotland cannot stand because, excellent as his been the work done by the School Boards in the prosecution of primary education, when you come to secondary education and technical education it is quite certain that the School Board area is necessarily too small.

Now, if the present School Boards are displaced, whom are you to put in their stead? One obvious expedient would be of course to select, as was done in England, the county councils, but there are, aft r grave consideration, two reasons why I think the county councils should not be adopted in Scotland. In the first place, we have in Scotland what we have not in England, a universal system of School Boards which has worked very I well during the time it has been in existence. And, in the second place, the peculiar position of the Scotch burghs makes it very difficult to treat the county council as the education authority. The Scotch burghs' feeling is very strong, I might almost say it is sentimentally strong, but besides that, of course, the Scotch burghs are to a great extent the possessors of the secondary schools, and if you want, as want, to weave the whole education authority into one, it is quite obvious that you could not take the county council in which the burghs proper—I mean to say the Royal and Parliamentary burghs—are not represented, and mike it the educational authority. Upon the whole matter, therefore, I have come to be clearly of opinion that it would not be in consonance with Scotch opinion at this time to take the county council as the education authority. If, therefore, you are not going to do that you will then have to settle what area you will take for your new body. Well, there is a general proposition in regard to area with which I think everyone will agree, that in taking new administrative areas you ought always to take them if possible with the same boundaries as older administrative areas. There is nothing so bad as having various administrative areas with overlapping and intersecting boundaries. You need not, of course, take precisely the same area which for some other purposes of local government has been selected, but at least you ought to take something that is the exact sum of a certain number of smaller areas. Now, in Scotland we seem to have an area suggested and ready at hand, and that is the district area of the county council. It, of course, owed its origin to the County Council Acts of 1889, and it was created, no doubt primarily, merely for the purpose of roads, but it has already been largely used for other administrative purposes, notably, for example, in the matter of public health. It is well understood. The boundaries are well known. It peculiarly lends itself to the treatment of the burghs, and also it is, last but not least, of a very appropriate size—that is to say, that the class of body you would have would be of manageable size, not too big, and not, at the same time, too small. I have said it particularly lends itself to the treatment of the burghs. I would remind the House what I said about the burghs possessing the secondary schools, and I would remind those hon. Members who are not so familiar with Scotch local government, as some of us are, that the police burghs already have representation on the county councils, every police burgh being necessarily a district of the county council. There are, at the same time, certain burghs in Scotland which differ so widely in their circumstances from all others that they obviously demand separate treatment. I mean the great burghs of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, and Aberdeen. Nobody supposes that you could throw them into the counties which surround them, and, accordingly, in the Bill, there is separate treatment for these burghs.

Now, having asked the House to follow me in the way in which, I do not say so much I have come as I have been driven, to the plan which I suggest, because I shall venture to say that the more you look at it you will find it is the inevitable outcome of the general principle I first laid down, I snail now, with what brevity and clearness I can, explain to the House the exact provisions of the Bill. There will be, as I have already indicated, a School Board for each district.


Will it be elected?


I will tell you about the franchise in a moment. The School Board will be elected ad hoc if you like, certainly for no other purpose except that of the School Board. The district, as I have already explained, means the district of every county, and all burghs, be they Royal, or Parliamentary, or police, fall into the districts which surround them. As regards police burghs, of course, no further arrangement is necessary, because they all form divisions of the county council, but as regards Royal and Parliamentary burghs they will have to have separate representation—that is to say they will have to elect so many members of the School Board. The only other districts are the four enumerated districts of Edinburgh, which includes Leith; Glasgow, which includes Govan; Dundee, and Aberdeen. These form separate communities by themselves. Of course there are one or two counties not divided into districts at all. In that case the whole county becomes the area, but these are few in number, as hon. Members know. The number of members of which each Board is to consist is to be settled by the Department, which will lay the result of their deliberations on the Table of Parliament. But there will be this check. There must be a minimum of one for each electoral division. I could easily give hon. Members a sort of idea of what the various School Boards would be, but after the most careful consideration, I came to the conclusion that it was far better—with that proviso that there should be at least one as a minimum—to leave it to the working out of the the Department rather than append it in a schedule to the Bill. It would be very cumbersome, and I think there would be a great deal of most unnecessary cavilling, and, after all, it is only leaving to the Department work which it has been doing without cavil at all, because under the Act of 1872 it had the duty of settling and altering the number of the School Board.

ME. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will explain whether it is merely the numbers that are to be left to the Department.


As to the number of members, the right hon. Gentleman will see (hat, so far as the electoral divisions are concerned, I have put in a minimum of one. That almost settles itself. The only case in which you want an arrangement is where you take a Royal burgh in a district. Well, then you must give that Royal burgh so many members in the School Board correlating to its position and authority in the district.


Is it on the basis of population?


Well, I do not think you can go by a hard and fast rule of having regard to population. That is just the class of consideration which will be kept in view by the Department in order to give proper representation to the various districts of a county.


Will the right hon. Gentleman say what is to be the number of electoral districts. Does he mean the parishes?


I mean one member for each electoral division. I think the right hon. Gentleman, although a Scotchman, has not taken much active part in Scotch local government, and he has forgotten that districts of counties are divided into electoral divisions. They do not correspond with the parishes at all and they vary a great deal. That is the reason why one cannot have a cut and dried schema for making a certain number. For instance, in Mid Lanark there are no fewer than forty electoral divisions, and in one portion of Aberdeenshire—Alford—there are four with quite as large a territory. There are great differences in that way, and accordingly you could not do it by any kind of formula. That would be impossible. At the same time I do not think that the working out of it in practice is at all difficult.


My point is that the parishes are disregarded.


The parishes are disregarded in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman will hear how they come in afterwards. These School Boards are to be the public education authority for all branches of education within their district. They are to b ' elected upon the county council franchise and, of course, the burgh franchise, which hon. Members know is the same. There are certain transitory provisions to bring the Act into operation, but, after the Act is going, the election will be on the same day as the county council election, and on the same day as the burgh council election, so as to avoid the multiplication of elections. But, of course, as there are many schools scattered up and down a district, and as it is very advisable to maintain that local interest in the schools which has done so much, we propose that each school shall have local managers. These local managers are to consist to the extent of one-third of members of the education body itself—I mean the School Board—and to the extent of two-thirds of persons appointed by the parish council where the school is locally situated. To those local managers are to be delegated such powers as the education authority think fit, but with two exceptions. They are to have nothing to do with, and they are not to have delegated to them, either the appointment or the dismissal of teachers, or the question of borrowing money. There is no par: of the Bill to which I have given more careful consideration than the question of the local managers. It would be a great pity if you squandered the amount of local interest which he done so much for the schools in the past. At one time my own feeling was very strongly in avour of putting into the Bill the powers which must be delegated to the local managers, because we cannot help feeling that if local managers are used as no more than mere caretakers of the premises you cannot get the best men to do that son of work. There were, however, so many obvious difficulties, that I had to abandon that scheme. I only hope that the good sense of the education authority, coupled with the fact that one-third of the managers are to hi of their own number, will persuade them to delegate in the most ample manner as is consistent with their own paramount authority. As to the appointment or dismissal of teachers—after all the question of improving the teacher is at the bottom of the question, and anything we can do to improve the condition of the teachers is all to the good, provided only that we do not make our teacher our masters instead of our servants. One of the great difficulties of the past system in regard to the teachers has been not altogether the question of money, but that with thee small School Boards the country teacher had no career. One great advantage which I hope will How from this scheme, if adopted, is that, the educational area being much larger, there will be a chance of a teacher being moved round and round in that educational area. A man will no longer feel that, if he goes to a small country school, he will bury himself; but that he will have from the education authority, at least, certain chances of promotion. It will, also, I hope, to a certain extent, get rid of the occasional —they were only occasional—but sometimes very capricious dismissals of the teachers by a very small body.

The duty of the School Board so constituted will be, first of all, to take a comprehensive survey of the needs of the district and the duties laid upon them in order to make suitable educational provision for the district. There is a power in the Department to bring to book School Boards which do not rise to the full extent of their duty. The correlative powers of the School Boards are very large. They were considerable in the past, and, as a natural development of the system, they had established higher grade departments in many schools. We have never had, what I may naturally call, a Cockerton case in Scotland; but "evil communications corrupt good manners," and last autumn an ingenious parish council in my own county thought it good to start a Cockerton case; and started it. It was successful before the Sheriff Substitute; but the Sheriff Substitute's decision was over-ruled by the Sheriff Principal; and there the case necessarily came to an end. But there were certain dicta of learned Judges quoted in that case which caused a certain disquietude in some minds as to whether these higher grade departments, and other provisions of secondary education, were, or were not, legal. It seemed a pity to leave that in doubt, and there are provisions in this Bill which will lay that matter completely at rest. The School Boards are given not only the old powers—because the Act of 1872 and the scheme are not in any way repealed —but a great many extra powers which have been found in practice to be wanted. In particular, they are allowed to help any educational institutions within their boundaries, whether they are managed by themselves or not. There does not seem, according to the Scotch system—which, of course, leaves it to the electors to capture any particular area, and, having captured it, to make such provision as they like for religious education as well as other—there does not seem, and there cannot be, any logical claim by any person not in a School Board for direct aid from the rates. But, at the same time, there is a great deal of proper educational effort which does much for the children of Scotland conducted in schools outside the pale of the School Boards. In particular, the Roman Catholics educate a great many children —if you take the whole of Scotland, although the districts are few. Therefore, I have not shrunk from leaving it to the School Boards, if they choose, to give, under such conditions as they like, help out of the rates to those other educational establishments. There is no compulsion upon them to do so, but I should be very much surprised, on the provision being passed, if, as a matter of fact, you did not find that in centres of large educational matters and enlightened opinion, such as Glasgow, such assistance is not given.

MR. BLACK (Banfishire)

Are the grants to go direct to the schools or to be paid to the School Board?


I am not speaking of the grant. I am speaking of the powers of the School Boards.

MR. THOMAS SHAW (Hawick Burghs)

In giving this encouragement to private adventure schools, can that be done under the conditions set forth b}7 the School Boards?


Yes. The School Boards in this matter are entirely their own masters, and the Department has nothing to do with it. They need not do it except upon conditions.

There are several other powers dealing with smaller matters. There are outlying districts where shepherds and such people live with their children—and where it is impossible, without ruinous expenditure, to have schools within the roach of these children. I have put in the Bill, for the first time, a power on the part of the School Boards to make such provision, for transit or otherwise, as will bring these outlying children to places where they can get proper education. There is also a power given to start bursaries for the encouragement of promising children who are obviously able to take advantage of being transferred to higher class schools. There are powers also, in the matter of technical education, for School Boards to join together so as to utilise in concert the services of one particular person as a lecturer in response to the need for special education. I see the hon. Member for Leith Burghs present; and I understand from him that that is precisely what has been done in the county of Fife, and it has been found, as a matter of fact, very satisfactory. There are other powers on minor matters—such as furthering the physical development of the children and also securing medical inspection.

MR. CATHCART WASON (Orkney and Shetland)

Will medical inspection include dental inspection.


Yes, it will.

MR. JOHN DEWAR (Inverness)

What about the feeding?


There are some matters connected with the supporting of the children; but the general feeding of the children all round has not been dealt with in the Bill. There is another matter in which I know some people are interested. There is what has been felt to be a peculiar grievance of the school teachers who were alive at the time of the passing of the Teachers' Superannuation Act, in respect that they could not get what they might be expected to get from the School Board, but were forced to take a much smaller pension under the Education Act. That grievance is removed.

MR. EUGENE WASON (Clackmannan and Kinross)

Are ladies to be eligible for election to the School Boards?


Oh, yes.

MR. HALUANE (Haddingtonshire)

Are the School Boards to give pensions?


Yes, for the future everybody is to be under the General Act.

Now, I pass to the finance proper to the Bill; and by finance I mean, of course, those Imperial contributions which have been made for education. Now, the state of finance is at present really chaotic in its perplexity. It has its origin in the fact that various monies became due by way of Equivalent Grant to Scotland at various intervals. So let me tell the House how the case i stands—I do not say "remind," for I do not think that except the hon. Member for Mid Lanark and myself, any hon. Member could say how these various sums come out. Scotland from time to time was given various sums for education. Let I me first tell the House how the matter stands at present. First of all there is the Local Taxation Customs and Excise Act of 1890, Section 2, 3b. Under that I the sum that comes in is variable, because it depends upon the Customs and Excise, The figures, for instance, for 1900–1–2, were, leaving out the small figures, £87,000, £79,000, and £69,000. That money is the money which is distributed according to valuation and population among thirty - three county councils, eighty-five burghs, and 121 police burghs. They may use it in relief of local rates and apply it to education. The amounts spent on education in the last few years were: 1900, £87,000 available, £62,000 spent on education; 1901, £79,000 available, £56,000 spent; 1902, £69,000 available, £50,000 spent. Now the difference between the amount spent and the amount available does not represent a sort of proper proportion, but it represents the fact that some people have wakened up to their educational duties, and that other people have not. Now I have heard this matter discussed many times, and I do not think that this sort of small margin which goes to the relief of local taxation has any effect; and therefore I propose to take the whole for education. The next source of revenue is under the Education and Local Taxation Account (Scotland) Act, 1892, Section 2, b. 1. That is a fixed sum of £60,000, which has in the past been spent, £4,700 for higher education and leaving certificates, leaving £55,300 to be distributed amongst thirty-three county committees, five borough committees, and one parish committee, making thirty-nine committees in all, on the basis of population, the allocation being according to schemes drawn up by the committees and sanctioned by the Department. The third source is under the Local Taxation Account (Scotland) Act, 1898, Section 2, 4, and that also is a variable sum, though it has not varied very much, having been for the last five or six years about £37,000 or £38,000. Of this £2,000 is available for higher inspection and leaving certificate examinations, £2,000 for agricultural education, a certain sum is reserved for grants to central institutions, £13,000 having been paid under this head, and grants to higher class schools, averaging about £25,000. That exhausts what I may call the present sources of supply. The House will remember that a certain amount was distributed directly, but a larger amount was distributed under the minutes of the Department, the allocation at the same time being among {he various county councils and borough committees. But besides that there is another fund under the Education and Local Taxation Account (Scotland) Act, 1892, Section 2 (5). There is £100,000 which is paid to county councils, boroughs, and police boroughs, and that can go under the law either to the relief of rates or towards schemes of public utility under which is included educational schemes. Very little of that money has, in fact, been paid to education, viz., only £547. Taking what I hope is to be an absolutely comprehensive system, and looking to the flagrant necessity of the nation for real effort in the matter of technical education, I do not think it is too much to ask the country people to make some sacrifice, and I have come to the conclusion we can do all we want to do without imposing any new rate whatever, but I shall ask the House to let me lay violent hands upon this £100,000. What I propose to do is this. I propose to like all these sums I have enumerated and to pool the whole of them into a new fund which shall be called the Education (Scotland) Fund; that is to say, instead of dividing them piecemeal as they have hitherto been divided, I propose to pool the whole money into one fund. I have left out one very great source of supply which I had forgotten for the moment, and which, of course, is the aid grant of last year, viz., the money we are entitled to in respect of the Imperial contribution to England, £219,000.

I propose to pool the whole of these monies, and now I shall read to the House the provisions of the clauses by which these monies are to be paid out. First of all, there is the cost of inspection of higher schools as recognised by the Department, of leaving certificate examinations, and the cost of inspection, which, of course, has been found to work admirably. Secondly, the money will go to establish and maintain a central fund from which the Department shall, as it sees fit, make grants in aid of capital expenditure incurred by local committees, bodies, or managers in providing new institutions for the promotion of technical education of an advanced character, and for extending such institutions where they already exist, providing the total amount in any one year shall not exceed the sum of £40,000. I think that carries out what has been greatly recognised as desirable. Thirdly, it will go o making special grants, according to rules and under conditions prescribed from time 'o time in the minutes of the Department; first, in aid of such educational institutions as may be expressly recognised by the Department; secondly, in the provision of higher education whether the schools in which such education is given are eligible for the annual Parliamentary grant or not; and thirdly, in aid of any expenditure incurred by School Boards in establishing bursaries or bringing education within the reach of children in outlying districts. Fourthly, it will go in aid of, or for the provision of, qualified teachers for schools eligible for the Parliamentary grant. Fifthly, it will go in aid of general expenditure incurred by School Boards by paying some l½d. per scholar for every complete 2d. by which the amount of the equivalent grant falls short of 2s. per head. One of the Acts which we have had to repeal is the old necessitous School Board Act, because if we did not repeal that Act in the larger areas of the School Board we should not have got our money out of the Treasury, which, of course, was part of the settlement when we got the aid grant last year. When we got the aid grant we were rather in this difficult position. In England the old Acts, the necessitous School Boards, and the necessitous Voluntary School Acts were swept away and then the new Act came in the place of them; in Scotland those remained. If we had retained the old necessitous School Boards in these larger districts, of course the Treasury would not have had to pay. Therefore, with the assent of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I compounded for a sum of £(50,000. Well, that has to go back again, of course, to the School Boards to help them where they are largely necessitous. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer met me perfectly fairly. It is quite impossible to leave the matter as it is, and I am not going to cavil about a thousand or so up or down. After all these purposes, which hon. Members will see correspond practically to the old destination of the money for secondary purposes, of course amplified by these provisions for helping central institutions and for making a nucleus fund for the establishment of new institutions, there remains to distribute a sum which is approximately as nearly as possible the whole balance of the said funds for technical education, and School Boards, and managers of schools not under the charter of the School Boards, in proportion to the average attendance of scholars. That, of course, is just the same as the balance section of the minute which distributed the aid grant last year; that is to say, it gives practically the balance to all the State-aided schools, whether Board schools or not. That ends what I have to explain on finance. In a word it simply comes to this: I take all the old sources of money, and I take in one sense two new ones. I cut out the option which the town councils and county councils have of putting aside a certain amount of the fund under the Local Taxation Act of 1890 for the relief of rates and put it all to education; and I lay violent hands also on the £100,000. By doing that I believe I can make all these great educational reforms without recourse to any new special rate.

Now that ends in one sense the administrative portion of the provisions of the Bill with one exception. There has been, from time to time, mooted in discussion proposals to transfer the Education Department itself from London to Scotland. After very careful consideration I am of opinion that you could not make a greater mistake. I believe that so long as you have an Imperial Parliament in which you have the Minister for Scotland here, it is absolutely necessary that he should be in continual touch with his Education Department, and I am perfectly certain he could not be if that Department were in Scotland. Therefore I should be root and branch opposed to any such proposition. But at the same time I recognise that the feeling which has mooted that proposition is quite a fair feeling. Hon. Members I feel that under the present system there is perhaps scarcely that outlet for Scottish opinion to have its proper effect and weight upon Departmental attitude, and they would, so to speak, rather like to have the opportunity of putting their views before the Department rather them learning for the first time by circulated minute what those views are. I may say that in former years hon. Members have often somewhat complained of the number of circulars on Scottish education. I have had compiled, and hope shortly to publish and circulate, a selection of the circulars which show the operative progress during the last few years, and prefixed to that as it were an explanatory memorandum showing as one continuous whole the general scheme and the progress which the Department has mad In order to fulfil a distinct wish propose in the Bill to constitute four provincial councils. These provincial councils are to be constituted by Order in Council and they are to meet at Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Inverness. They are to represent the: views of various bodies interested in higher education, including each of the four Scottish Universities, and in determining (heir constitution special regard to be had to the following special provisions. Each provincial council shall consist to the extent of not less than one-half of its members of persons representing county councils, School Boards, and other local authorities within their province; to the extent of not more than I one-fourth of its members of persons elected by the Senattus Academicun of one or more of the four Scotch Universities, and they are also to contain representatives of central institutions other than Universities, of the governing bodies of schools not under the charge of School Boards, and also two or more persons actively engaged in teaching in schools, whether under the charge of the School Board or not, situated in its province. The function of those councils is to deal with any matters referred to them by the Department, particularly with the adequacy or inadequacy of the provision made for the higher education of the population within any district, the admission or exclusion of institutions or schools to or from participation in the Education Fund, the qualification of the teachers to be employed in the institutions, and the curriculum of any individual school; but they are to have an absolute power in their own hands of making a representation to the Department with reference to any matter affecting the educational interests of the province. I hope that by this method we shall enlist in the cause of education all that is best of Scottish authority for the purpose of helping in the deliberations of the Department. I should be absolutely opposed to the provision of paid places for any such work as this. But, on the other hand, I think it of the greatest importance that we should get the Universities to take their part in the work of directing general Scottish education, and under this scheme we shall be able to do so. It is obvious, I think, that you could not simply divide Scotland into four, and assign each part to a University. It would be a fantastic arrangement to assign the Highlands to St. Andrews alone; therefore there would probably be representation of two Universities at least upon each of these councils.


asked how the four great School Boards would be affected.


asked whether Dundee would go with Aberdeen or with Edinburgh.


Do not let us get at cross purposes. The provincial councils and the four great School Boards are totally different things. As far as the provincial councils are concerned, they are Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Inverness. They do not go by the cities at all, they are districts or provinces, Inverness being the Highlands, Aberdeen the north-east, and Glasgow and Edinburgh the south-east and west. As far as Dundee is concerned—


It goes with Aberdeen?


No, it does not go particularly with Aberdeen.


With which province does it go? It must go with one or the other.


The actual provinces are not settled in the Bill. That has to be done by Order in Council. All that is indicated by the Bill are the heads of the provinces. I do not know whether Dundee would go with Edinburgh or with Aberdeen; it is not determined. If the Government had attempted to go into such minutiae it would have meant drafting another Bill upon this Bill. As to the enumerated districts, Edinburgh consists of Edinburgh and Leith; Glasgow consists of Glasgow, Govan, and Partick; Dundee consists of the burgh of Dundee; and Aberdeen consists of the burgh of Aberdeen. All that I have said about School Boards in general is applicable to their position.


All I desire to know is whether the School Boards in the four great cities are to be the sole education authorities, and have sole financial control of education in those cities.


Absolutely. There is only one slight difference between their position and that of the School Boards of the other districts. In other districts it is compulsory upon the School Board to appoint local managers, whereas in these large burghs it is not; we are leaving them precisely as they were before. Except for that, financially and in every other way, they are in precisely the same position as the other School Boards.

I have explained the provisions of the Bill at some length, and I trust I have not left any uncertain feeling in the minds of hon. Members as to what those provisions really are. I venture, not without hope, to make an appeal to the House in this matter. I am the first to confess that anxiety for the furtherance of the best interests of education in our country is as strong with the Party opposite as with hon. Members behind me. At the opening of the session the right hon. Gentleman opposite made some kindly references to myself in connection with this subject. I venture to think that when he has studied the Bill he will find that I have not played him false. If this Bill is passed and the House will consent to the small sacrifice in the matter of money to which I have referred, it will be quite possible, with the resources which the Imperial Parliament with no stinting hand has placed at our disposal, to have what I hope will be the best educational system to be found in the United Kingdom.


I desire to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on the manner in which he has introduced this Bill. He has discharged his task with a degree of modesty which does him credit, because this is a large measure, but he has not wasted rhetoric upon it. He has told a plain story such as his countrymen like to hear. There will be a general feeling of relief that the right hon. Gentleman has succeeded in avoiding some of the difficulties which have beset educational legislation affecting the lower end of the island — I mean it is lower on the map —with which we have had to deal during the last two or three years. He has steered between Scylla and Charybdis, but there may still be little rocks and whirlpools with which he may find himself in difficulties. This question opens up a large field. As the Scotchman said of the pigeon-pie, there is a good deal of confused feeling about the Bill, and there may occasionally be a morsel to which his countrymen may exhibit a reluctance, but in the main, the right hon. Gentleman has maintained that which the Scotch people value—viz., the control of their own schools. He has not advanced any artificial or newfangled plans for bringing in superior wisdom to guide the common sense of the Scotch people at large, and he has shown no indication of favouritism or partiality in the manner in which he has dealt with the subject. It would not be desirable for any of us to commit ourselves too deeply on the subject until we and the Scotch people have had an opportunity of reading and studying the Bill. It is a fortunate thing that the Bill should be published now, so that a full opportunity for such examination may be given.

The only matter to which the right lion. Gentleman referred—upon which I look with a certain amount of doubt suspicion might be too strong a word—doubt as to whether it will stand the ordeal of close investigation — is the establishment of the consultative provincial bodies. He mentioned, as if it were something to he satisfied with and so it is—that he did not propose to pay salaries to persons taking part in that portion of the scheme. But after all, you are left with the old dilemma. If a person is paid he has some responsibility; if he is not paid he has none. So that, however reluctant you may be to pay people, you do not get the full sense of responsibility or control unless you do pay them. I rather suspect the value of the amateur interference of so-called experts in educational matters, even when they come from Universities. I do not know t position the Universities are to occupy. We are co-ordinating, correlating, and doing everything else that is desirable nowadays in education. The Universities have always been democratic bodies, closely mixed up with the life of the people, and I do not know exactly what the relation will be to the secondary and primary schools. I hope this is not a profane suggestion to make. If there is advantage in the presence of representatives of the Universities, with consultative powers, if no more, on authorities dealing with the general education of the county, must it not also be desirable that plain men, with large experience of School Boards and other humble departments of the educational system, should be admitted to some voice in the governing bodies of the Universities themselves? I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman and the Government on having introduced this Bill. As I have said, I think that in the main it carries out the ideas of the Scotch people on the subject. As a representative of a burgh, I am not sure that the right hon. Gentleman has dealt with the burghs with the respect that he ought to have shown to them, but that is a matter of detail to be dealt with when we come to the clauses of the Bill. In the meantime I think there will be a general feeling that the old system of local education, governed by the locality, under the control of the inhabitants and the parents of the children, to which they have been accustomed for so many years, will not be materially injured, while other advantages which are at present absent will have been secured.


asked on what date the Bill would come into force.


said the appointed day was 15th May, 1905.

MR. WEIR (Ross and Cromarty),

while thanking the right hon. Gentleman for the Bill, which he was glad to find extended the School Board franchise to all persons having the right to vote for county councillors, suggested that provision should be made by which School Board managers in sparsely populated districts might be paid travelling expenses for attending School Board meetings and specially meetings of the provincial councils. He did not think a provincial council would be suitable to the Highland counties. He would wait to see the Bill before making any further remarks.

SIR ROBERT REID (Dumfries Burghs)

asked whether the powers delegated to the local managers were to be exercised subject to control by the School Board, or at the discretion of the managers.


said that that would depend on the terms of delegation.


congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on the boldness with which he had dealt with the chaos and confusion caused in the Scotch education system by the different grants. If the Bill dealt with no other matter than that they would have cause to be grateful for it. He desired to take the opportunity of paying a tribute not only to the right hon. Gentleman himself, but also to the late Secretary for Scotland for his endeavours to improve the whole system of Scotch education. Scotland had never had a better Secretary than Lord Balfour of Burleigh, and there was no subject to which he devoted himself with greater assiduity than the promotion of Scotch education, and in the Bill many points which would have the general assent of the Scotch people could be recognised as having been pressed by Lord Balfour of Burleigh in speeches and circulars. There was doubtless an advantage in giving Scotch educational opinion an opportunity of expressing itself, but it was doubtful whether that opportunity would be as well given by four provincial councils as by one central council for the whole of Scotland. In some parts of the country, partly in the North, it would be very difficult to get people of large educational experience, such as it was desirable to have in relation with the knowledge of the practical difficulties of each district. General educational experience, together with knowledge of the special needs of the districts, was necessary, and he was not sure that that would be obtained with the four councils so well as by one. The difficulty of bringing people from a distance might be surmounted by giving the council power to meet in different places. While sympathising with the view of the right hon. Gentleman that it was better to appropriate the four existing sources of revenue than to have recourse to the rates, he suggested that there night be cases in which a burgh of an advanced and enlightened county might with advantage have the power of rating itself in addition to receiving money from this separate Scotch fund. There were many minor points to which attention would have to be paid when the House had the Bill in print, meanwhile he expressed his pleasure that the fundamental principles of local representation and full local control—which had given such vitality to Scotch education in the past—were to be preserved.

MR. MACONOCHIE (Aberdeenshire, E.)

asked the Question whether nothing could be done to assist farm servants in the matter of extra cost to them for school books for their children, owing to the fact that nearly every parish had different books. Also whether there was provision to enable the children of agricultural labourers to leave school before fourteen years of age when they had passed fairly high in their examinations.

MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)

said that the provisions of the Bill as explained by the Secretary for Scotland were a considerable improvement upon those of the Education Acts hitherto produced by the present Government, and he wondered whether the right hon. Gentlemen could see his way to extend the Bill to Wales. One provision of the Bill was a striking comment upon a certain action taken by the Government in this country. He understood that under this Bill the treatment of voluntary schools in Scotland was to be different from that of the voluntary schools in England and Wales, as an option to the giving of rate aid was to be left to the local authorities. When the people of England and Wales claimed to exercise a similar right they were told they would have to go to gaol. Why should Scotchmen be allowed perfect freedom m this matter, while people south of the Tweed were threatened with imprisonment for claiming the same right. A great deal was heard about equal rights for all white men in Africa, but he thought it was about time there were equal rights for all white men in this country. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would make representations to the Government, so that they might realise that people south of the Tweed were as fond of freedom and fair play as those who dwelt north of it.


said it was clear from the last speech that this Bill avoided the religious controversy which had been such a great obstacle to educational progress in England. In Scotland they had always been to a large extent free from that trouble, because, although they had denominationalism, with them it was well understood, and kept within limits by popular sense and popular control. He believed then; were certain powers in the Education Department of giving grants in aid of voluntary schools. Would those powers still continue?


said he was not aware of the powers to which the right hon. Gentleman referred.


said he was thinking of one or two particular cases, but it was evident from the right hon. Gentleman's reply that the matter did not bulk largely in his scheme, and therefore it was of no importance. A further question was whether the management the religious question would rest with the popularly-elected authorities constituted by this Bill.




thought the right hon. Gentleman was right in preserving a certain amount of local management, but it would require careful watching, as in some parts of Scotland there had been a disposition to make the holidays coincide with agricultural rather than educational requirements. The Government were to be congratulated on having solved in a satisfactory fashion the difficulty about the teachers. There was to be a large area, with a large number of responsible people upon the authority which would have the power of appointment and dismissal, and he did not think teachers would ask for more. The part of the scheme which he thought the least satisfactory was the position of the Scotch Education Department. It was, doubtless, a great convenience to Ministers and Members of Parliament to have the Education Department in London, but the difficulty of access was keenly felt by local managers and people interested in education generally in Scotland. The Department was too far away, and matters were conducted far too much by letter and circular and far too little by consultation. He hoped it would be part of the administrative scheme of the right hon. Gentleman, outside this Bill, to ensure that the representatives of the Department in Scotland were more open to consultation. The proposal with regard to four provincial councils would cut both ways. It was a good scheme in one direction and it would act as a bulwark against bringing the education authority to one particular centre in Scotland. He agreed with his right hon. friend that in the long run it would entail a change in the constitution of the governing bodies at the Scotch Universities. Those bodies at present were not satisfactory; they were out of touch with the popular element, with the result that there was a want of that vitality which could be seen in the governing bodies of the new Universities in England, such as at Liverpool, Manchester, and Birmingham. He hoped the Bill would be the first step towards bringing not only the University influence into the general system of education, but also the general educational influence into the University system. With regard to technical education, that branch of the subject could not be developed on an adequate scale so long as it was kept to the mere provision of technology. Technical instruction must be based on a foundation of general knowledge, and kept up in relation to higher learning, and he had always thought they suffered from the fact that the Universities did not take a sufficient part in primary education. These provincial councils might be the means of introducing the Universities into a new sphere of activity for which they ought to be well fitted. The right hon. Gentleman was to be congratulated on having hit off the general sense of the people of Scotland in this matter. In Scotland, undoubtedly, with the experience the people had had of administration of education and their long habituation to directly-elected authorities, the right hon. Gentleman had taken a wise course and the only one consonant with Scottish opinion. With regard to details of the scheme, Members would have to wait for the Bill before pronouncing a final opinion, but the right hon. Gentleman was to be congratulated on the general foundation which appeared to be embodied in the measure.


desired to associate himself with the remarks of his right hon. friend the Leader of the Opposition, both as to the measure itself and as to its introduction. The right hon. Gentleman had rendered many signal services to the State, but he had never rendered a greater than in the construction and introduction of this Bill. While reserving to himself the right of criticising the details of the measure, there were one or two points to which he wished now to refer. He had frequently argued for the triangulation of Scotland for the purpose of managing the educational wants of the country, and he freely admitted that this scheme seemed substantially to have accomplished that object. He hoped that nothing he would say would be construed as anything but a tribute to the School Board system of Scotland from which that country had derived sued signal benefit for thirty-two years. The principle of that Act had been of great importance and benefit to education in Scotland. The principle was, in the first place, that there should be perfect control over the contribution of the rates of the locality, and secondly, that with that control there should be absolute liberty of administration even on the difficult topic of religion. On these two lines there had been produced in Scotland a state of educational peace which was in marked contrast, in recent years, to what had been seen south of the Tweed. While he felt a pang of regret at the abolition by the Act, at one stroke, of the School Boards of Scotland he found consolation when he discovered the constitution of a local committee. Might he point out to his right hon. friend the Secretary for Scotland that there would be, on the question of area, not inconsiderable difficulty in some parts of Scotland. There were no district councils in some counties. He had not the statistics before him at the present moment, but his impression was that the large county of Sutherland had no district council at all. The whole of that county would be administered by one board, and it stood to reason that no poor man would be called to sit upon it. He thought the county of Caithness was in a similar position. These were cases which would have to be considered in the spirit in which the Bill had been introduced, and he was quite sure that the Government would consider any workable suggestion as to these details. In regard to the School Boards he ventured to interpose one question. He understood that the School Boards for the areas would have the power of overlooking the question of the educational wants in their districts, including the supply from voluntary sources. He hoped that his interposition would not be misunderstood. He was glad to hear that before grants were made to these voluntary institutions, conditions laid down by the representative body must be complied with. This was an arrangement which appeared to solve a troublesome and knotty question in regard to the voluntary schools. So much difficulty had arisen in England on the questions of public control, the state of buildings, and the efficiency of the stag that he had heard with satisfaction that this money was to be administered by means of a representative body, making conditions which in their judgment would be adequate to secure effective public control. He also welcomed the financial provision made for bringing pupils to secondary and technical centres, and for bursaries to be given to promising pupils.

He was extremely sorry that he could not give a complete eulogy to this measure. He should be inclined to hold that the scheme for four provincial councils was unfortunate, and at present he would hope that it was not necessary for the scheme of the Bill. He rather differed from his hon. and learned friend the Member for Haddington, who talked about, the Universities and their connection with technical and secondary education. His speech appeared to him rather a plea for the reform of the Universities in these respects, but it was no argument for taking selected bodies from the Universities and planting them in the position even of consultation in regard to the primary or secondary education of Scotland. He would advise his friends on both sides of the House to look carefully to what were to be the functions of these bodies. If he gathered aright they were to form one-fourth of the governing bodies of the voluntary schools. What possible right had they in the matter of consultation or otherwise in a scheme of this kind? On the whole the four provincial councils seemed altogether to be surplusage. He hoped they were not necessary to the Bill, but he would rather take them than do anything to impede the progress of the measure. The spirit in which the Bill had been introduced augured for it a happy, and, he hoped, a swift progress. It behoved all in Scotland to give every possible assistance to the passing of the Bill.


said he desired to congratulate the Scotch representatives on the policy of the Government in simplifying, and therefore giving greater force to, the use of the Consolidated Fund in the interests of education. Some persons in England had long thought that it, would be of great benefit to education if a larger share of what he would venture to call a national grant came from the Consolidated Fund rather than from the rates. That would simplify procedure, avoid many complications, and much strife. He and many others believed that the salaries of teachers should be charged on the national funds, thereby placing that distinguished body of men in a more satisfactory position than they now occupied. He desired to thank his right hon. friend the Member for Haddington for what he said in favour of general as well as technical education. One of the great mistakes made in this country during the last ten or fifteen years had been that too exclusive attention had been given to purely technical education. That was perhaps, a necessity of the time, but he sincerely hoped that now the literary side of secondary education would find its due and becoming place in the education of the country.

MR. J. A. CAMPBELL (Glasgow and Aberdeen, Universities)

congratulated the Secretary for Scotland upon the manner in which the Bill had been received. This was not the time for going into details, hut there was one provision in the Bill on which he thought his right hon. friend deserved especially to be congratulated. A frequent complaint against the present condition of things referred to the smallness of the School Board area in many country districts.

It was felt that the smaller areas restricted the scope of the School Boards, and these were apt to take narrow views of what was necessary in the interest of education. His right hon. friend had shown how the larger areas would be greatly in favour of the teachers, and there was no doubt that the change would open up a prospect of advancement to the teachers of the country schools. That would have the effect, we might hope, of attracting a fuller supply of male candidates for scholastic situations. At present there was much complaint of a deficiency in the supply of properly qualified male teachers. On the other hand, with larger areas, there was a danger of the people of a parish losing some degree of their interest in the education of their children. Under the present system it was found that the connection of the people with the school of the parish had a great effect in stimulating their interest in education, and if, in the future, the parish was simply to be part of a large School Board area without much individuality of its own as regards school administration, there might be a falling away of that interest. His right hon. and learned friend had avoided that danger by his provision of managing committees, through which the interest of each parish in its own schools would be maintained, while the larger area would give greater scope to education, and afford a better field for the teachers. He had to acknowledge the position which the right hon. Gentleman gave to the universities of Scotland in granting them a voice in the proposed consultative committees. Some allusion had been made to the governing bodies of the universities, as if they might not be sympathetic in the matter, but he would remind the House that not long ago the constitution of these governing bodies had been largely altered, and that now no fear of tint kind could be entertained. He congratulated his right hon. and learned friend on the Bill he had explained to the House and on the favourable reception which it had met with on all sides.


said he was very glad to understand from the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland that, under the Bill, it would be possible to do away with some of the disabilities which some teachers in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland suffered through being unable to come under the provisions of the Superannuation Act. He was pleased to join in the general satisfaction with which the Bill had been received in all parts of the House; more especially' in connection with the manner in which the grievances under which the old teachers had suffered for a long time had been treated. Another point with which he was delighted was the provision for the conveyance of children to school from remote districts, instead of their having to walk to school on cold, wet days. Many children were blamed for stupidity in school when they were actually suffering from toothache and earache. If more attention were paid to the physical condition of the poor children and if their health were better looked after, there would not be the same outcry as at present for technical education. The Scottish children had plenty of brains if they had only health; and if facilities were provided against their sitting in school with wet feet and wet clothes. He was disappointed at not having heard from the right hon. Gentleman more about cooking lessons—a subject which was almost lost sight of. Girls, as well as boys, went out into the world utterly devoid of knowledge of that science. With reference to the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Haddington, he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would not curtail the powers of the School Boards in regard to holidays in any district they thought fit. All of them were anxious that education should be carried on as far as possible, but there were many circumstances in which it was desirable and absolutely necessary that parents and guardians of the children should have their help in harvest and at other times.

DR. MACNAMARA (Camberwell, N.)

said that when he compared the admirable speech which had been made that afternoon by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland with those which had been made from the Treasury and other Benches opposite in 1902–3, he was reduced to a condition of absolute bewilderment. He did not think he could go beyond Truthful James when that hero of Bret Harte's poem exclaimed:— Do I sleep; do I dream; Do I wander in doubt; Are things what they seem, Or is visions about? It had been said from the Benches opposite that of the forms of local authority for education to be thrust upon a helpless community the School Board system was the most objectionable. Speaking on the English Education Act of 1902, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University said that the ad hoc system was an anachronism, that it was reactionary, that it was recognised that self-government was absolutely impossible unless there was always control of the finances, and that the only way that could be secured in this or any other country, was to place all control, financial and educational, in the hands of the municipal councils. The Goverment had made a complete volte face on this matter. Last year they said that the ad hoc authority was reactionary, retrograde, hopeless, and extravagant; but that was the system which that afternoon had been retained and extended in Scotland, although every reason for destroying the ad hoc authority in London and the great provincial towns of England might have been equally applied to the Scottish School Boards. He looked with envy and delight on the position of Scotland, and he congratulated the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of Scotland upon his action. Why was this? First of all he suggested that they had got a Scottish Prime Minister and a Scottish Leader of the Opposition; but the main reason was that the Government knew that the Scottish people were keen on education, and that if any endeavour had been made to destroy the School Boards in Scotland the people of Scotland would have made sharp retribution. He did not believe the Government believed in School Boards. The experience of the House that afternoon compared with the experience in the debates in 1902–3 was a very fine lesson to the English people. If the English people had cared for their School Boards the Government would not have destroyed them; but because the Scottish people were keen on education and for the retention of their School Boards the Government were afraid to destroy them. It was because of their careless indifference and unconcern in England that the Government had destroyed the great School Boards in England and in London with impunity. This would be an admirable scheme for England and Wales, and would get them out of all their difficulties. He felicitated the Scottish Secretary upon the task he had to perform, which must have been in consonance with his own views; and he also felicitated the Scottish nation whose rapt and stern interest on behalf of education had stood them in such good stead, and which had made it impossible for even the present Government to destroy the School Boards of Scotland. He hoped the Scottish people would remain in the van of education in the United Kingdom as they now were, and that they would continue to put into practice the dictum of their great reformer that every scholar was an addition to the wealth of the community.

MR. MAXWELL (Dumfriesshire)

said that he had no doubt that the the Secretary for Scotland would be quite willing to have the advice of educational experts like the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken. He hoped, however, the progress of the Bill would not be hindered by the introduction of English difficulties. There was one point to which the Secretary for Scotland did not refer, namely, the question of endowments. As he understood the Bill, it proposed that local authorities should be set up who would have the management of education in their areas. The right hon. Gentleman was no doubt aware that many of the large endowed schools in Scotland had to make use of their powers to ask the Court of Session to have changes made in their schemes. Unfortunately the smaller endowments had not taken advantage of that power, and many of the schemes were not really doing as much for education as they might. He would not go so far as to suggest that these endowments should be made over to the local education authority; still it was very desirable that the local education authority should have some powers in regard to them. He hoped the Secretary for Scotland would not lose sight of the point.

CAPTAIN ELLICE (St. Andrews Burghs)

said he desired to congratulate the Secretary for Scotland on the Bill which he had introduced, and at the same time condole with hon. Members representing English constituencies. Parents in England had, however, a remedy. They could send their children across the border to be educated. He especially congratulated the Secretary for Scotland because the Bill carried out all the pledges he himself had given to his constituents with one exception. That was the superannuation of lady teachers, but perhaps that would be provided for at a later stage. He could not, however, congratulate the Secretary for Scotland on the slur on St. Andrew's University contained in the Bill. He thought it ought to be a meeting place of one of the consultative councils instead of Aberdeen.


said that the only complaint he had heard of the Bill came from an English Member who wondered why the provisions did not apply to England. He would suggest that an Englishman should come forward and should deal with the priest and the militant opposition, and bring in another Bill. The proposals of the Secretary for Scotland had been received with such an outburst of enthusiasm that he could only say with Charles II., "Why did not come down sooner and earn this applause before?" With much of the Bill he most cordially agreed, and he only wished they had not had so long to wait for it. They were, he believed, ten years in arrear with it and he felt that the Scottish Administration of the Government had incurred very serious responsibilities from having left the measure over so long. They would now endeavour to make the best of the Bill, which they would consider educationally and not politically or in any sectarian spirit. In Scotland they claimed to have common sense in the matter of education and this Bill would give them absolution in history for many sins committed in the past. With regard to the Bill itself he wished to express entire approval of the district area which, as was apparent, was the most serviceable area for the conduct of local affairs. With that area and the one authority for all classes of education he fully agreed. Nor did he anticipate any difficulty in the matter of local control, and if it were true that some of those areas were large, might it not be considered whether payment should not be made to members of School Boards who were put to considerable expense to attend the meetings at some distance from their homes. It would, in his opinion, lead to the efficiency of the authorities if some such allowance were to be made. As for the local managers he was not quite so sure of the manner of their selection, but that did not give an opportunity for much criticism. The proposition for the transport of children was most admirable, and he presumed it would be required more for the primary than the secondary and technical schools. Then in the matter of food, he would not press for food to be provided, but he would ask whether some provision could not be made in the shape of the necessary articles employed in the preparation of the food. Then he would like to see a better standardisation of pupil teachers, and if the universities could be brought into closer contact with the system of training teachers it would benefit Scottish education as a whole. He did not believe in the councils absolutely, but he did believe in having effective control over the office of the Education Department. A great deal of confidence in the administration of that department was lost last year by the minute governing relief from the rates, and by the circular which restricted Scottish education in primary schools before any co-ordination was introduced into the system of secondary education. Those were two capital errors. He would commend to the right hon. Gentleman opposite a little handbook which he had been permitted to see in the India Office and which defined the relations of the Secretary of State for India with his Council. It was he believed, on such lines as were contained in that handbook that they ought to find a solution of the difficulty of bringing the department under the influence of Scottish opinion. It was not merely a question of the efficiency of the department, but of reviving the interest in educational affairs that had not been noticeable of late years in Scotland. He sincerely trusted that the Bill with some Amendments would have a rapid passage through Parliament.


hoped the Secretary for Scotland had kept in view in this Bill the necessities of the poorer districts of Scotland, where the rates were abnormally high. In one parish of his constituency the rates in one year came to no less than four shillings in the pound. The Secretary for Scotland had, in the Bill, given power to the School Boards to bring the children to the school. That was very much needed. One school he visited he found contained only six pupils, and four of them belonged to the teacher himself. That was a wasteful method of employing the finances of the School Board. The Bill also reduced the School Board franchise to the same level as the county council franchise. That was an admirable change and one much needed. Many persons in his constituency had a right to vote for Members of Parliament and of the county council, but no right to vote at the election of the School Board. That resulted in a ridiculous position of affairs in many districts. In one school district, with 120 scholars, there were only five parents of these children who had a right to vote for the School Board. In another school, where there were only sixty or eighty scholars, the only parent who had a right to vote for the election of the School Board was the schoolmaster himself. He was glad to say this Bill removed that difficulty. It was a pressing question at the last general election. He would also press, as the hon. Member for Leith had done, that something should be done to give School Boards power to contribute something towards the maintenance of scholars coming long distances. In the Highlands scholars often came from very long distances and in all sorts of t weather, and they arrived wet, tired, and hungry, having consumed all the provisions they had. Unless something were done they would have to carry on the work of the day on an empty stomach, and that everybody knew, was not a condition in which a child could take advantage of the education offered. It seemed to him the power of the School Board should be widened in this respect, and that they should contribute something towards this very desirable object. He also thought that, in the West of Scotland particularly, the powers of the Board should be extended to embrace the teaching of trades to boys attending the schools. As he had pointed out, these boys never saw any trades being carried on—never saw any builders, joiners, or blacksmiths at work. He knew the Secretary for Scotland had promised a Bill in which these powers should be given to the Congested Districts Board, but he suggested that money should be taken in this Bill for that purpose instead of money given to the Congested Districts Board. He would like to congratulate the Secretary for Scotland on the Bill which seemed an excellent one.

DR. FARQUHARSON (Aberdeenshire, W.)

congratulated the Secretary for Scotland on this most excellent Bill. They were very happy to know that the School Boards were to be retained in Scotland, instead of being done away with, as they had in the case of the last Education Act for England. It was very important, however, that the areas covered by the smaller School Boards should not be too large, so that local interest might not be extinguished. He was sure that much good would be done if members of the School Boards were encouraged to drop into schools when inspection was being carried on. It was a very important point that in these large areas teachers in the smaller districts should have some reasonable chance of rising in their profession, instead of being confined continuously to one district. Their professional horizon should be enlarged by the prospect of getting promotion. It was a great grievance among teachers in remote districts that they were confined to rudimentary teaching, and were prevented from exercising their knowledge in the higher work of teaching. The subject of the dismissal of teachers was one which he was glad to find was dealt with as it should be. Cases had not been general, but there had been occasionally instances of arbitrary dismissal for some purely local reason or personal squabble. He was of opinion that teachers should, in the case of capricious dismissal, be entitled to place their grievance before a higher tribunal. As to physical training, he was very glad to know that the right hon. Gentleman had taken this subject to heart and he hoped he would take pains to see that proper physical training in schools was carried out. This was a most important matter and he hoped it would be the subject of a full-dress debate in that House. They heard a great deal about the physical deterioration of the children and he had no doubt that there was considerable truth in the assertion. The root and branch of the whole business was that the children were not properly fed. It was inevitable that want of proper nourishment should lead to stunted growth. In his opinion something should be done to see that children were fed regularly during school hours, and if a practical suggestion with this object were made, a great deal of good would undoubtedly result. Much was already accomplished in this direction by private enterprise, but this was not enough. It was notorious that children well fed were in a much better condition to take in knowledge than those who were underfed. If children were compelled to go to school in all conditions of weather, it was not going too far to say that some provision should be made by the State or by the public authority to see that they were properly fed. He was very glad that the Secretary for Scotland had directed his mind to the physical side of the subject, and he was quite sure that if he did take action in the matter he would earn the gratitude of children and parents alike.


desired to join with those who had already spoken in congratulating the right hon. Gentleman on the endeavour he had made to 3olve the problem now before him. He thought, however, that it would be a great misfortune if this Bill were to be read a first time without something more being said with regard to the old parochial schools and School Board system. It would be a great matter for regret if they were allowed to be wiped out "unwept, unhonoured, and unsung." The first essential of Scotch education was that it should be Scotch, and the old parochial system loomed large in the eyes of the nation. This Bill proposed to do away in large measure with that system, because, although it retained the idea of local managers in the way of local management committees, partly appointed by the parish council, these committees were very restricted in their functions, for they had no rating function, nor any function in relation to the appointment or dismissal of teachers. He was very much afraid that one of the effects of the proposed system would be to throw the direction of education in some measure into the hands of the people who had taken part in the county councils in the past instead of into the hands of local people. It would be a great misfortune if that were allowed to take place, and if the personal touch of the people, especially of the lower middle class, with the schools was diminished or damaged. He could not say more without seeing the Bill itself, and he felt that hon. Members would be wise to insist upon seeing the actual provisions of the measure before committing themselves further in regard to it.

MR. JOHN WILSON (Glasgow, St. Rollox)

said the Secretary for Scotland had gauged in a remarkable manner the feeling of the people of Scotland with regard to the educational question, especially of the people in the great towns. Did the Secretary for Scotland intend to put down cumulative voting?


urged that the Bill should not be sent to the newspapers before it was in the hands of Members of the House. He also asked that it should be distributed to Members in time for them to place it before their constituents during the holidays.

MR. AINSWORTH (Argyllshire)

drew attention to the desirability of teaching Gaelic in the Highland schools. It was almost necessary, he contended, that the teachers employed in the schools should have a knowledge of Gaelic in order to teach children English. In reply to the argument so often used that Gaelic was no use to children in after life he pointed oat that if a child had a knowledge of Gaelic as well as English in his early life he would acquire much more easily tiny modern language.

THE MASTER OF ELIBANK (Edinburgh, Midlothian)

drew attention to the practice of sending the poor children of Glasgow and Edinburgh to institutions in Midlothian, as a consequence of which the cost of the education of these children fell upon the local authorities in Midlothian. As long ago as 1898 the attention of the Government had been directed to this matter, and he mentioned it now because he thought it would be a convenient time to deal with it.


said he would try and give an answer as simply as he could to the various Questions put to him. The hon. Member for Mid- lothian asked him a Question. He knew quite well to what he referred—the great difficulty in connection with the homes of various sorts which had been established. There was one question well known to hon. Members of the House in connection with the Quarriers' Homes. He could not say there was any provision in the Bill dealing with them. It was a subject full of difficulty. He could assure the hon. Member if he would try his hand at a clause to bring about a remedy he would find what serious difficulties there were in the way. He was not prepared to go the whole length of absolving a parish from duties with regard to the education of those who happened to be within its borders. He should be very glad if any hon. Member could give him any assistance on this subject. With regard to the cumulative vote, it would be inconsistent with the plan of having a member for each electoral district. The Bill did not, obviously, deal with the question of the teaching of Gaelic, and this was a matter to be regulated by the local authorities. It was altogether outside the Bill to take up any question of curriculum. The poorer districts would necessarily get a considerable amount of absorption in the larger areas. There were provisions under the Bill which would make it possible for assistance to be given to any education authority, or set of education authorities, which might choose to combine to start anything in the nature of a training college. He disagreed with the hon. Member for St. Andrews Burghs, who said it was a slur on the St. Andrews University that it was not to be one of the meeting places of the councils. He (Mr. A. Graham Murray) would be the last to cast a slur on St. Andrews University, but St. Andrews would obviously not be a convenient centre for the proposed meeting place.


said he thought the desire was to get the Universities interested in education, and if that was what was desired he should have thought the best place to meet would be St. Andrews.


said St. Andrews would have as much representation as any other University. The Bill did not touch endowments at all. As to the price of books, that would necessarily be alleviated by the larger area. The question of the expense of keeping a child at school after it had passed a certain standard did not fall within the scope of the Bill at all. It would be the duty of the education authority one year after the passing of the Bill to furnish the Department with a report in regard to the condition of education in their district. The Department would then consider whether, taking everything in view, it was necessary to start other institutions or not. He had already explained, in answer to a Question, the nature of the rate and what the School Board might give to institutions not under its own control. That did not mean, of course, grants out of the Education Fund going through the School Board at all. They would be paid out of the local education fund just as at present.


asked whether the subvention would be affected by the Bill.


said the old three shillings subvention was not touched, and it would obviously be an extraordinary injustice to take it away. He thought he had answered every point raised by hon. Members, but there was one matter to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberdeen had alluded, and to which he desired to refer. In thanking the House very cordially for the exceedingly favourable reception it had given to the Bill—and he was quite certain that fair play and even more than fair play would be shown in the subsequent proceedings—he wished to say that the credit to a large extent was not his, but belonged to his noble friend, who, he was sorry to say, was not still with them. They could not, however, as was the manner of angels, occupy the same needle point at the same time. The general scheme of the Bill was determined so long ago as last summer by his noble friend, assisted by himself. Of course it was not framed at that time. Since then, in the actual construction of the Bill, whilst carrying out general principles, they had considered very carefully and, on many occasions, the whole of the details. They had taken those that seemed to be best, and that best had overcome the difficulties that arose. But on those matters they were not wedded to them, and in the future passage of the measure, if they chose to alter the matter of local managers, the proportion, and so on, if they chose to cut out the scheme even of provincial councils, he should not consider it in any way vital to the Bill. The one vital principle was that one central authority was to be the authority for primary and secondary education. He hoped the House would find, on consideration of the details, that although there was something to criticise in this plan there would be more to criticise if another plan were to be taken. Upon those matters ho only asked for the assistance of the House, and he was quite sure the way in which the Bill had just been received was a favourable augury for its further progress. With regard to the Question of the hon. Member for Dundee as to when the Bill would be placed before hon. Members he could only remark that if the hon. Gentleman represented the feeling of the House he bad nothing more to say. It was quite impossible for this Bill—which could not be sent to press before tomorrow, and had to be printed and stitched—to be circulated before the end of the week. Hon. Members would doubtless before that time have gone to Scotland. Their copies would be sent to them through the post and eventually they would receive them after the Bill had appeared in the newspapers, to which it would be sent as soon as it was delivered to the Vote Office. He quite understood the feeling that animated hon. Members in desiring to receive the Bill personally instead of seeing it in the papers, but he really thought that if hon. Members wished to consult their convenience they would in this case allow the Bill to be sent to the newspapers without delay. He, however, was not going do so and then to be told that he had not consulted the House of Commons upon the point.

MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid.)

expressed the opinion that a precedent would be created if the Bill were to be sent to the papers before it was placed in the hands of private Members. He suggested there should be a consultation on the point between the Secretary for Scotland and the Leader of the Opposition.