§ [Second Reading.]Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ * Mr. BLACK (Banffshire)
had the following Motion on the Paper, "That 129 this House declines to entertain a measure which proposes to commit the administration of primary education to areas consisting of counties or county council districts, in disregard of existing educational areas or such reasonable rearrangement of these as the special requirements of education in each case suggest." The hon. Member said that it would be a matter of congratulation with every true friend of education that this, Bill did not like the other Education Bills introduced by the Government. Threaten in any sense to be the battle grounds of contending sects. But what the debate thus lost in excitement it would largely gain in greater educational interest and usefulness. There was no Member of the House hailing from north of the Tweed, on whichever side he might sit, who was not convinced that education was not to be treated as the possession or privilege of the few, but it was the tight of every boy or girl, however humble his or her origin, and however remote the place was in which he or she resided, to receive the education best calculated to fit him or her for the career of the greatest usefulness which his or her capacities rendered possible. This Bill was on its First Reading received with universal satisfaction, but that satisfaction must have partaken of the character of the satisfaction experienced by the boy who had expected corporal punishment and who had be let off with mere verbal condemnation. Judging from the nature of the Bills introduced by this Government relating to other parts of the United Kingdom, Scotch Members might have expected that a measure somewhat resembling the English Bill would be brought in. But in that they were pleasantly disappointed, and they found that the Government had, so far as the country north of the Tweed was concerned, agreeably changed their views upon various essential questions affecting the administration of education. There was general agreement on two essential questions. The first was that the education authority was to be ad hoc, and second that it was to be specially elected by the ratepayers for this particular purpose. But while these two very important elements of agreement were present in the Bill there were other 130 matters not quite so satisfactory, and he hoped that when the Secretary for Scotland came to reply he would show a willingness to give heed to the friendly* persuasion which no doubt would be addressed to him on the lines embodied in the Amendment which had been placed on the Paper.
The right hon. Gentleman in introducing the Bill congratulated himself on having to deal with a people willing to be educated. That was a perfectly true observation, but it was for consideration whether that willingness was due to the character of the people or whether it was not in some measure due to the character of the institutions under which they lived. An examination of great national movements in Scotland showed that they differed from similar movements south of the Tweed in that they proceeded direct from the people. Who knew what important effect that had upon national character, national institutions, and national efficiency? His contention was that it was desirable to exercise very great care not to ruthlessly I destroy any essential element in rural Scottish life. His objection to the Bill was that it swept away the old administrative area in which Scotsmen had been accustomed to think, and asked them to transfer their thoughts, as far as education was concerned, to another area, which was not in itself the most suitable. Anyone who knew anything of Scottish rural life was aware that the county played but a small part in the lives and minds of the people. Amongst the most of them, the county town—except to those who lived in it—had no particular significance except as the place where punishment was undergone in certain conceivable events. All other matters affecting Scottish daily life were thought of in parishes. The ecclesiastical, educational, and Poor Law arrangements, etc., arose out of the parish; and before sweeping away such an essential feature of Scottish life it behoved them to consider very seriously whether the system proposed to be substituted for it was really a substantial improvement. He dared say that if one were compelled to admit that the only road to increased educational efficiency for Scotland were along the lines proposed by this Bill, one would be prepared to consider its provisions 131 very carefully, and give them, at least, a favourable hearing. But he ventured to submit that before any great change was made in the Scotch educational arrangements the onus was very heavy on the promoters of the Bill to show that the change proposed was absolutely the best in the sense in which he had defined it—viz., that it would bring all parts of education to the poorest and most remotely situated children; and in the second place that there was no other way of attaining that object more consonant with the traditions and habits of the Scottish people.
He would recall to Members of the House who perhaps were not immediately connected with Scottish education, that the Bill proposed that for secondary and elementary education alike the area of administration should be the county council districts of each county, or the county itself where the county had not been divided into districts—thus sweeping away, as far as primary education was concerned altogether the parish and the burg has the unit on which the educational arrangements were to be conducted. He would ask, whether the area proposed was the best possible for either primary or secondary education, because if it was not the most suitable for either it was quite impossible that it could be the best for both. Income cases it might be conceded that they were perfectly suitable for primary and others for secondary education; that in other cases they were not suitable for either; but it was found that in few cases were they suitable for both. An ad hoc authority should have an ad hoc area to administer. He found support for that proposition in the Resolutions passed by the Educational Institute—a body which practically embodied the whole of the teaching profession in Scotland —that the administrative area of each board should be determined solely on educational grounds. It was along that line that the Government should act.
He proposed to examine separately the qualifications of the area proposed in the Bill as applied to primary as contrasted with secondary education. The area for primary education should not be too large, either as regarded superficial area or population, to make it impossible 132 for members of the board to know the education of the whole district, and be in direct touch with the parents and teachers. The Bill admitted that it was impossible for school boards as constituted to be in full touch with I schools within their area, because it had been found necessary to introduce into the Bill very complicated provisions with regard to management of schools showing that it would be necessary for the board to delegate a large part of its functions. There was no provision more closely and justly criticized than that each board should be compelled to establish subordinate boards of management. It was perfectly apparent that, selected as they were, there would be room for endless friction in the working of the arrangement. The best men would not serve upon these boards of management because the would find themselves in a position of inferiority to those whose functions were to be delegated to them. He felt confident that when the Bill came to be discussed in Committee the provision dealing with the appointment of local managers would be rightly and successfully as sailed as being unworkable. They would find that in many cases the areas would be exceedingly unmanageable. In some cases they extended over areas equivalent to three, sometimes over six, ordinary counties. If the matter of superficial area was laid a side, when they looked at the facilities of communication the question was even in a worse position. Thus, in many of these counties it would take days for members of the board to make the journey to attend its meetings. Then the members elected for one part of the area would haven knowledge whatever of the needs of other parts. What did a man on the coast know of the needs of the shepherd or agriculturist inland? The thing really spoke for itself. It was impossible for all the members of the board administering areas for primary education such as these proposed in the Bill to have that direct local knowledge which was a necessity for efficiency. In order that members might comprehend what these figures which he had quoted meant, let them think for a moment of the three Lothians, and compare them with 133 the size of some of the proposed areas. What did North Berwick know about Broxburn, or Dalmeny about Whittinghame?
Then the other element in considering the suitability of the divisions for primary education was that of population. Here one might find, perhaps, some basis of qualified agreement with the scheme of the Bill in regard to primary education. But that very element militated against its suitability when applied to secondary education. He had made an analysis of a Return recently issued of the population of the several areas proposed to be formed. Apart from the enumerated areas it was proposed to form 107 areas, of which seventy-seven had an average population of 12,000, and an average school population of 2,000. Thirty had an average population of 65,000, and an average school population of 10,000 or 11,000. Now, as applied to primary education, he was not disposed to quarrel with the idea that a school board was not overworked in supervising the education of 2,000 children, but in some cases, where the population was scattered, it was impossible for a board to supervise even that number. If they took the larger number of children in an area numbering 10,000 or 11,000 where the district was condensed, and the population was round one centre, even that was a suitable enough number, but where, as frequently happened, in the districts proposed by the Government, the population was scattered the objection as applied to superficial area was aggravated by the number of pupils which the school board would have to look after.
Examining further the proposals of the Bill as applied to secondary ducation, the fatal defect was that the areas proposed were chosen for purposes other than educational purposes. They were chosen for the administration of roads, drainage, and kindred subjects, and were not selected for education at all. For a suitable secondary educational area it was necessary that a district should run along the great lines of communication. In some cases the districts did run parallel to the lines of communication, and they might be suitable enough for secondary education areas where the population test was satisfactorily met. 134 But where they did not run along the lines of communication, they were totally unsuitable. That suggested very strongly the need for an ad hoc area adjusted to the requirements of secondary education. When the population test as applied to secondary education was thoroughly examined, it would be found that the districts were still more unsatisfactory. Two thousand primary pupils would' furnish too small a number of secondary pupils to make a really satisfactory secondary school. As he had pointed out, in seventy-seven areas the average number of school children was only 2,000, and he believed that the number of secondary education pupils was only about 3 per cent., of the number of primary pupils. But even if the proportion were 5 per cent., that would only give a school of from sixty to a hundred children in each secondary education area, and anyone who knew anything about secondary education was aware that that was a quite inadequate number to make a satisfactory school. Such a school could not afford to pay the teachers well enough, and the net result would be that the object of the Bill as regards suitable secondary education arrangements would be defeated in such cases. Those were abstract objections to the Government scheme; but when the proposals of the Bill were applied to the existing educational arrangements confusion became worse confounded. He had heard of one village which under the scheme of the Government would be cut into two; it had a school containing 160 children and the result would be that those children would be administered in two separate educational areas, and, as far as his information went, the rates in each would be different. Whenever under the County Council Act parishes were bisected, then separate rates were required for each part of the parish.
If all this were necessary it might be given a favourable hearing; but was it necessary? Was there no other method that could be applied with greater effect and a better prospect of efficiency than that proposed in the Bill? He ventured to assert that there was a much better method; and it was to be found in the reasonable growth of the present system of education rather than by a revolutionary cutting of it into two. Why not 135 aggregate the existing parishes and boroughs into special primary education districts for the purposes of primary education, again aggregating the primary districts into larger districts for secondary education? There would be nothing impossible in that. They would have the advantage of aggregating the rating authorities, and in that way they would obtain a district specially adapted for the purposes of primary education, and a larger district specially adapted for secondary education. The only objection he had ever heard urged against it was that there might be some difficulty in getting the parishes to join in such a scheme; but he believed that with a suitable allocation of localities for educational purposes, parishes with low rates would be willing to make some sacrifice in order to have a thoroughly satisfactory district. Moreover, the objection was only transitory, and would disappear in six months. Whatever method the Government chose to adopt in aggregating the parishes would no doubt in certain cases excite some measure of comment; but it would only be transitory, and the result would be a perfectly symmetrical and satisfactory working scheme of secondary and primary education combined with the following advantages. First of all, there would be a reasonable growth of the present system; the new system would grow up out of and be coordinated with the existing system and would not break the century-old traditions of Scotland in the matter of education. In the second place, there would be a representative or representatives from each parish and borough who would be thoroughly acquainted with local needs, who would be in close touch with parents and teachers, and who would be the natural person or persons to undertake the duties of supervising the schools in the parish or borough. In the third place there would be an ad hoc area specially adapted to the needs of primary education. In the fourth place there would be secondary education districts properly adapted for that purpose, and having large districts they would be able to get rid of county prepossessions. As matters now stood, it was made a matter of necessity that secondary schools should be confined to a particular county; but with a large area and an ad hoc author- 136 ity they would be able to disregard county boundaries altogether and have absolutely the most suitable and satisfactory area for secondary education. Further, there would be better secondary education schools, as universal experience had proved that small schools for secondary education purposes were not satisfactory. He knew of one large town in Scotland which had a secondary education school, and which was found to be so unsuitable that pupils passed it by and went to Edinburgh. That was not an uncommon experience, and was, after all, to he expected; because a good secondary school teacher was comparatively rare and required to be highly paid, and the school itself should be well diversified. If the school were small that would not be possible. In the fifth place, his proposal would get rid of the scheme of management provided by the Bill, because the representative of the parish or borough would be the natural manager of the school. Lastly, large secondary education areas could be readily affiliated with the Universities and work along with the Universities in promoting secondary, technical, and university education. On those grounds, he asked the Government to consider seriously the Motion he had put on the Paper. He had been given to understand that some hon. Members opposite were favourably disposed to its general idea, but that they found a difficulty in supporting it as it seemed to be hostile to the Government and the Bill. In those circumstances he did not propose to move it; and it would, therefore, be open to hon. Members without any hostility to the Government to express their views.
There were one or two other matters in connection with the Bill to which he desired to direct attention. As regarded the establishment of provincial councils, he found that they were not to be directly responsible to this House or to the ratepayers. It was quite true that half the members would be nominated by the school boards, but as regarded the other half they might be anybody or everybody, and the fundamental objection to that was that although they would not be responsible to anybody but themselves they would be exercising supervision and authority over popularly-elected bodies. 137 That would be a very undesirable innovation in a country which professed to be democratic. Further, there was the necessity of having the leading educational authorities with the head office of the Department in Edinburgh, so that members of the school board and others interested in education might have ready access to the persons responsible for the central administration. He had never been able to see the objection to that, and perhaps the Secretary for Scotland would state what the fundamental objection to it was. If it were merely to afford facilities to Members of this House, surely it was of greater consequence that persons actually engaged in the work of education in Scotland should have an opportunity of being in touch with the Department. Indeed he had never been able to see why the Scottish Members should not form themselves into a Committee of Education with duly appointed officials and themselves see after this all-absorbing national question. An old historian described Scotland as a country with evil fruits, but producing good men. His right hon. friend the Member for Aberdeen would, no doubt, emphasise the goodness of the strawberries produced in his constituency, but, as a rule, the fruits were evil. One would, however, be glad to think that the other characteristic still remained. He was, however, afraid that things were not quite what they were in that respect, though Scotland did still produce men of efficiency and ability, as might be observed from the two Front Benches. In conclusion he would venture to ask the House to pause before interfering with a system which in the past had produced such excellent results in the production of men of intellect and culture eminent far beyond the limits of their own country.
§ * The LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. SCOTT DICKSON,) Glasgow, Bridgton
said he confessed that he had not been able to gather from the hon. Member's observations much in support of the Amendment that stood in his name on the Paper. After the cordial and generous reception given to this Bill and the criticisms made upon it in the country ho confessed that he was not prepared for an Amendment of this character, and still less was he prepared for it when he found on the Notice 138 Paper an Amendment in the name of an hon. Member who was closely associated with those most experienced in educational matters in England, who desired to move, after a Second Reading of this Bill—That it be an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill that they have power to extend the Bill to England and Wales, including London.The Amendment of the hon. Member for Banffshire was in every sense ill-advised. In the first place it did not take account of what everyone who had studied the educational needs of the country insisted upon, namely, that primary education should not be divorced from higher intermediate secondary education, but that it should be brought more and more in co-ordination with it. This Amendment was entirely out of harmony with the facts, because it was not the case tint the Bill they were now considering proceeded by constructing areas in disregard of existing areas. In the first place this Amendment would be fatal to a Bill which he ventured to think all Scotch Members and educationalists desired to see carried; in the second place it was founded upon wrong lines in this regard, that it severed primary from the other classes of education; and, in the third place, it proceeded under a total misconception of the facts.
He had no desire to say a word against the work the School Boards had done in the past in Scotland, because they had done good work, but the necessity for a change arose not from defects in the School Boards, but from essential changes in the circumstances of the country. The condition of things under which the present system was possible no longer existed in Scotland, because the University had set up a standard which mule it impossible for many of the ordinary parish and burgh School Board schools to pass scholars to the University. He had no desire to speak ill of the parish schools of Scotland, because the greater part of his own education was derived first from the parish school and then from the burgh school. Thirty or forty years ago the Scotch University began education at a much lower age thin they did now, and students went there at ten, twelve, and thirteen years of age. He went there when he was thirteen and there were 139 those with him who were as young and even younger. That system had all passed away now, and a pupil, however able, could not pass direct from the parish school to the University, and accordingly they had to recognise that there was a need for some bridge connecting the rural parish school with the University. He recognised that in many large centres the School Board schools gave such an amount of education as readily enabled the more apt pupils to pass to the University, but they had to recognise the fact that in many districts that condition of things no longer existed, and they had to provide for the means of securing that all the stages of education and the various classes of education, primary, secondary, intermediate, higher class, higher grade, and continuation schools should be under one controlling authority, so that they could get one comprehensive system for the government of them all. The Amendment they were now considering seemed to him to enlarge the severance which existed now between primary education and the other classes of education which were now taught; and if for no other reason than that he ventured to think that the proposal which the hon. Member for Banffshire had submitted was one which nowadays would find no support amongst those who had given most study to education, and who understood the needs of education, especially in Scotch districts.
He took exception to the Amendment on this further ground, that it was not based on fact. The hon. Member spoke more than once of the suggestion that secondary education could be dealt with on different lines and under different control and management from primary education, and he thought no regard at all need be paid to what was at present the existing educational unit, namely, the parish. That was not so, and if the hon. Member had looked into the matter, he would have seen that these county districts which his right hon. friend had suggested as the unit in the Bill were not considered necessary. There might be exceptional cases, where one parish was partly in one county and partly in another, but apart from that, every county district under the Local Government Act of 1894 was merely an aggregation of parishes. At the very 140 outset this was called a proposal which proceeded in disregard of the existing educational areas. The Bill paid further regard to the existing educational areas in this respect, for under Section 20 the management was given to those who were especially associated with the work of the parish. He agreed that this Bill, like other Bills and Acts dealing with this matter, did not proceed to specialise what was termed under-management, because it left that to the discretion of those primarily entrusted with the administration of the Act. The School Board would see that local interests and parochial desires were secured by making certain that those who were specially acquainted with the needs and the desires of the smaller administrative area, namely, the parish, and who took an interest in educational matters were made the managers of what would be the primary school for that smaller educational area and would secure what, after all, was the important factor, namely, the maintenance of local interest in educational affairs. In many other matters, in the payment of debt, in the rating authorities, and in the selection of managers, powers were granted, though, as his right hon. friend stated, that was not an essential feature of it. The proportion of the representatives of the local authorities was to be two-thirds nominated by the parish council and one-third by the larger area. Every effort would be made to secure the continuance of local interest and the progress of local education, and those powers would remain under this Bill, if it became an Act. just as as they existed under the former régime. The result therefore, he submitted, was that while on the one hand it might be true to say that for primary education the parochial limit was a very safe area to take, yet for secondary education he thought everybody would agree that a much larger area was necessary. If they considered the matter carefully, he agreed that there was room for discussion on the point, and there had been a great deal of discussion already as to whether the county or the county district should be accepted for the reasons adumbrated by his right hon. friend. He thought that it would be found that, after all, the county districts did not present conditions and 141 qualifications which made it, on the whole, preferable to any other area that could be suggested.
The hon. Member for Banffshire, as he understood him, wanted two sets of administrative educational bodies; in the first place, he wanted an aggregation of existing parishes, that was two or three parishes for primary education and then an aggregate of these units again for secondary education. He suggested that, after all, they had enough administrative areas for local affairs generally, and it would be a distinct advantage if they could take one of the existing administrative areas and make that the area for educational purposes. The House would observe that settling the area did not mean settling the authority, because he understood that there was practical unanimity on the point that they were to have an ad hoc authority for education. For reasons into which it was unnecessary to enter at length, the county district appeared to the Government to be the best area. The county district and the ad hoc authority would provide a body with a sufficiently large area to ensure that the interests of primary, intermediate, and secondary education would be so looked after as to secure a coherent, consistent, and comprehensive system all over the country. That would be advantageous to the pupils, who would find their educational requirements provided for on a reasonable system; and it was a method which met with the universal acceptance of the teaching profession—a point which, while not the most important, was undoubtedly a very important consideration in connection with any new educational arrangements. The teachers would have open to them a freer career, with more room for promotion than at present, and they would be free from those petty disturbances and tyrannies which were said occasionally to have occurred. The School Boards themselves, having larger areas, would have more authority and importance, and would be more easily able to hold their own against another form of tyranny—in which he had not much belief,—viz., that of the Deportment. Doubtless there were points in the Bill open to discussion, and possibly 142 to amendment, but on the whole he submitted that the scheme should commend itself to all educationists and to the House generally.
There were one or two other points to which the hon. Member for Banffshire referred, but, so far as they were of any moment at all, they were matters for Committee. The Amendment of which the hon. Member had given notice was unwise in every article, it would prove fatal to the Bill, it was not based upon a true view of the educational requirements of Scotland of of the age, and it, was really not founded upon fact, in that it proceeded upon the assumption that the Bill did not pay sufficient regard to the existing educational areas. He hoped the question would be treated not in any way as a Party question, but as one in regard to which all who desired to improve the educational conditions of Scotland could co-operate, in order that the Act best suited to the needs of the country might be produced. The Bill ought not to arouse Party recriminations, and it had been so framed as not to cause religious controversy. Therefore he hoped that, accepting the Bill in the spirit in which it had been proposed, the House would give a unanimous consent to the Second Reading, and then go on to consider in a spirit of mutual forbearance such points as required discussion in Committee so as to secure a measure which would advance the educational interests of Scotland.
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW (Hawick Burghs),
while congratulating the Lord Advocate on his speech, expressed his regret that the right hon. Gentleman had not said less about the Amendment and more about the Bill. After all, the hon. Member for Banffshire had not moved the Amendment; though, had he done so, it would have afforded not a little material for sound and useful discussion. In his opinion the whole scheme of the Bill might have been adjusted in the most friendly manner without the House being bound beforehand to any particular scheme of geographical districts. His first impression of the Bill had not been rendered less favourable by a perusal of the measure, but he felt that he would 143 not be discharging his duty if, on the Second Reading, he did not take the whole question into consideration, and offer one or two suggestions with regard to details which came more fully into view on seeing the Bill in print. Much satisfaction was afforded by the fact that School Boards were going to be continued; but whether or not that satisfaction would carry them too far in approving the whole Bill he could not say. They were in the position of people who e house had been in danger from an incendiary who had been at work in the immediate neighbourhood, causing great disturbance and havoc, but whose torch had practically gone out before he reached their district. But while a very revolutionary attitude was not adopted towards School Boards as such, there was a wholesale destruction of the existing School Boards, and a reconstruction and supersession of the old areas by other allotted areas. Upon that and other points discussion in Committee would doubtless be helpful.
What was the situation in Scotland where a system of universal School Boards had been in existence for thirty-two years? What had that system accomplished, and what was the secret of its success? Many people, of whom he was one, thought that Scotland was still far from perfect, but when taking leave of the old system it was well to consider what they had derived from it. The secret of its succes was twofold. In the first place there was a close and intimate reliance on the people themselves. The splendid manner in which that trust had been vindicated afforded one of the finest possible defences of the practical application of the theoretical principle of trusting the people and of representative government. In the second place, there had been liberty to give far more than primary education, and the School Boards had been allowed to tax the people for much that in those days might have been held to be the height of revolutionary fervour in the direction of secondary education. Technical education also had been managed by the School Boards. The words of Lord Young, the author of the Act of 1872, in this connection, were worthy of note. 144 Speaking at a meeting at Aberdeen in 1877 Lord Young said—The policy of the Act is that the public schools of each school district should be maintained and managed by the people of the district who are immediately interested in their welfare. I will never, I believe, admit that the people of a Scotch parish or burgh, are incompetent to choose a board of managers, who may be safely and advantageously entrusted with the management of their own schools, or that the managers of their choice require to be put under the supervision and control of any central authority.—which meant a liberty to the School Board to deal not only with the measure and standard of education but with the thorny subject of religion also. The Lord Advocate had said—Now the key-note of this national education is liberty—liberty to the people of each school district to determine, not once for all but from time to time according to the changing circumstances and ripening experience and presumably advancing intelligence, what subjects shall be taught in the schools thereof. This liberty, which extends to religious as well as secular instruction, is necessarily, with a view to the practical exercise of it, delegated by those who possess it to a limited number in whom they have confidence. But the responsibility of the delegates is direct and immediate, and I think that I do not overestimate the intelligence of the people in any district of Scotland, be it Highland or Lowland, rural or burghal, when I say that, however illiterate many of them may be individually, they will find out somehow, and know for Certain, whether the schools which they pay for and to which they send their children are good or bad; whether or not they are reasonably well conducted, and fairly servo their purpose.That was a most admirable statement, and a complete doctrine of the liberty of the teacher. Since 1872 under the system of a universal School Board the teachers of Scotland had complete liberty to deal with religion or not as they liked. In 1872 the population of Scotland was 3,395,000. In 1903 it had increased 34 per cent. The teachers, who were as a body not favourable to Lord Young's scheme of 1872, had increased 301 per cent.; and the school attendance had increased by 213 per cent.
There could be no feeling but that of gratitude to the Government for having introduced this measure. There was an old Scottish proverb that a Scotchman liked to see both sides of a shilling, and the truth of that proverb had been proved years ago. But what had Scotland done in this matter? Last year she had paid for her schools 11½d. in the £ on the 145 entire rentals of Scotland, and, however parsimonous they might be in some aspects of life, no one could say with regard to education that Scotland was a country of parsimony. Although he did not entirely agree with the Bill there was a good deal in it that attracted him and he would not quarrel with it. But he would have given power to the School Boards to combine with the parish councils of Scotland, which had taken the place of the old parochial bodies and have drawn no hard and fast line. The authority of this Bill was to proceed from the greater to the less—from the district councils who were to be responsible to the local managers—and if the same result could be obtained by proceeding from the greater to the less as from the less to the greater he would throw no obstacle in the way. But there wore one or two great dangers in the Bill. First of all he feared that the districts were too large. He reminded the right hon. Gentleman that some to was had not been taken into consideration, and that some of the urban counties aggregated a million votes. The next thing he had to say with regard to the districts was that they were originally formed not for education. He did not see any relation between the two subjects at all. If children travelled by road it would be different, but in nearly all the districts there was railway communication, and it was for that reason, he thought, that in many cases trouble would arise. He would give an instance from his own constituency. He had received an admirably and moderately worded letter from the School Board of Galashiels. The situation was this. Galashiels was at the junction of several counties; in fact, if he remembered aright, the division of the counties ran actually through the burghal area. The letter contained the following—Galashiels, situated on the main line of railway and an important seat of the tweed trade, is naturally and geographically an educational centre. The School Board here have done more than any other in the Border to promote higher and technical education. They have the best secondary school, the most flourishing continuation classes, their technical school is a long way ahead of any other in the Border. In his report to the Education Department, professor Beaumont made 146 the following observations upon our school and the Glasgow Weaving College: 'These two institutes are serving the educational interests of the tweed, fancy cotton, and other branches of the weaving industries of the South of Scotland. There are other local classes held at Hawick and Selkirk, but Glasgow and Galashiels are the most important schools, being equipped with looms and other apparatus for experimental as well as theoretical treatment of the subjects of textile designs and manufacture.'Pupils came to the weaving school at Galashiels from Stow in Midlothian, and Melrose and St. Boswells in Roxburghshire. There were also pupils belonging to Galashiels, which itself was in two counties. He was not stating this instance in any sense in an unfriendly way to the Bill, but in order to show that these districts would require a good deal of adjustment. It was out of the question to say a road district would fit a case like that. They should rather start with a centre, and aggregate to it all the districts which supplied pupils to it, and make that a working ad hoc district according to the theory of his hon. friend who opened the discussion. He mentioned these facts to the House to show that the Bill would require a good deal of knocking about and adjustment in order to make it fit the exact educational situation in many parts of Scotland. What was wanted in Scotland, and what he thought hon. Members on both sides of the House were desirous of having was—to put it in a word—that the highest secondary and technical education should be brought within the reach of everyone who was capable to receive it. The suggestion had been made that burghs with 10,000 inhabitants should be left with their own School Boards, as well as selected districts, with the power of aggregation of the neighbourhood to them, making the larger towns the centres. That might be one way of doing it. Another way of doing it in loyalty to this Bill was so to carve this measure as to enable a boundary commission, or otherwise, to suit the educational wants of the districts and have the whole country covered in that way. His anxiety was that nobody should be missed out, and to give throughout Scotland an opportunity to every capable son and daughter of his country of getting the best he or she could out of the educational appliances of the State. 147 He was gratified that the ad hoc principle had been preserved, but he might point out that, while the Bill conceded the necessity for local management, they parted with that principle in the remoter districts in regard to the appointment of local managers. There were to be two-thirds from the parish councils. That was a thing that might require some explanation. When they got back to the old School Board area they had departed from the ad hoc principle, and disfranchised from the management of education capable men in the district. He desired that the defect should be remedied at least in one way, and that was that they must make provision for the expenses of the members of the School Boards in the remote localities. If they had that, they would get the clever poor man to sit on these Boards. In some places in the North of Scotland it was impossible to get the country properly educated unless they had the clever man in humble circumstances who knew the wants of the district. Unless they provided facilities for that man sitting on the district board, they might as well write out representative control in a large proportion of the provinces.
He must now be quite frank to the House on the religious question. He profoundly regretted that the educational work of Scotland was apparently going to be disturbed by some portions of this Bill. They had had absolute peace in Scotland. What, they had done was this. They had on the School Board Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Roman Catholics. Quakers, and Jews, if there were any in the North, all doing their best, for the schools under representative control. The voluntary schools, as he would show, had done very well alongside of that general system. Under the general system between seven-eights and eight-ninths of the school population of Scotland had been educated, and he thought, upon the whole, educated very well. There were some parts of Scotland where there was a large proportion of Roman Catholic population alongside the Protestant population. What they did, in the Island of Barra for instance, was this, roughly speaking. The one half were Catholic, and the other half Protestant. They erected a Board school. There were so many Catholics and so many 148 Protestants on the School Board; they met together in friendly conclave, and administered the rates of the entire district. The headmaster was a Catholic, and the assistant master a Protestant. In the morning, at different ends of the school, the Catholic and Protestant teachers, respectively, give religious instruction for twenty minutes or half an hour, and after that they did the work of secular education. That had been going on for a decade, and nobody was the worse. Education had been thriving all the time. That was an example of what happened under representative control. If they chose to trust the people in this matter of religious instruction there would be no trouble at all. Apart from Acts of Parliament altogether, his own view would have been to leave religious instruction to the parents and churches. It was not good for religion, and it was very productive of soreness in all civil relations that the State should have been brought in. His view in the abstract would have been to leave the matter alone. But it had not been left alone. The voluntary schools had thriven very well in Scotland. In 1872 there were forty-six Episcopal, and twenty-two Roman Catholic schools. Under the system of grants—he did not say they were too lavish at all—which had left them separated from the national system though they were doing national work, the numbers now were sixty-six Episcopal, and 192 Roman Catholic schools. In the case of these schools the amount paid in grants was £43,000 a year, so that on the whole the voluntary system had not been starved out during that period. He, therefore, would have preferred to leave the whole system alone. He quite recognised that if the Bill was to deal with that question it, might have dealt with it by paying some specific tribute to the principle of popular representative control. Not only had the schools a grant, but the voluntary schools had a preferential grant in Scotland of 3s. per head. What this Bill proposed to do was to give power—he hoped this provision would not be passed—to rope in all the rates of the districts and to grant—Pecuniary aid upon such conditions as they may from time to time prescribe to 149 schools and institutions not under their charge, where such schools or institutions are recognised by the Department as supplying efficient education.That was the provision of Sub-section 3 of Section 31. He regretted to say that already that was causing very considerable disturbance in Scotland. He hoped that Parliament would lay down that if these voluntary schools were, as he said, to be roped in under the ordinary system they would be under the ordinary system of national control. If that were done, they could pass the clause in five minutes. But if they left that out what would happen? In every parish or burgh in Scotland where there was a voluntary school there would at once be an agitation to put it on the rates and there would be harassing grumbling in all these places between Catholics, Episcopalians and Protestants. What he insisted upon was that if any voluntary school was going under the State system it should be under representative control. But the position which the Roman Catholics and Episcopalians would probably maintain was that they were entitled to be put on the rates without any control whatever, and the moment a dispute occurred they would have the old trouble renewed in parish and town wherever there were voluntary schools. This religious difficulty should have been left alone, or submitted to popular control. His opinion was that if the voluntary schools were to be put on the rates that should only be granted on two conditions. First, that the existing preferential capitation grant of 3s. should be abolished; and, second, that private management and control should be largely removed, because if they were to go on the national system they ought to go on the national conditions. He believed he was speaking for three-fourths of the people of Scotland when he said that there was no wish to introduce religious feeling as was now proposed to be done. He was sorry that the idea had ever been mentioned that in our civil relations or in the performance of our civil duties we should be ruled or governed in any respect by questions of religion or creed. But it would be introduced now unless Parliament took up a clear, emphatic, and perfectly logical 150 attitude in regard to it. No man had a higher regard than he had for the Scotch Education Department; but really this Bill carried things too far. If we were to have bureaucratism at all in this matter of education, he would like a better form of it. The bureaucracy of Dover House had been a stifling influence on local initiative.
There were some extraordinary provisions in the Bill in regard to which he would trouble the House with a few remarks. Section 39 dealt with the administration of a large sum of money—many hundreds of thousands of pounds in amount—and with the distribution of that amount amongst various schools. It was known as "The Education (Scotland) Fund." And Section 40 said—The power of determining what schools or institutions, not being such day schools as are on the list of schools conditionally entitled to share in the annual Parliamentary grant for education as aforesaid, shall be admitted to, or excluded from, the benefits of the immediately preceding section of this Act. shall rest with the Department.That was to say, that there was to be a whole set of bodies engaged in raising funds for the maintenance of the schools, and district boards to supervise the educational apparatus and machinery; but that above all these there was to be this Education Department, sitting in London, which would settle for itself and for Scotland, and irrespective of all local opinion, what wore to be the schools and institutions that were to get the benefits of this annual Parliamentary grant.
§ * THE SECRETARY FOR SCOTLAND (Mr. A. GRAHAM MURRAY,) Buteshire
said that the power of determining what schools or institutions, other than day schools, as were on the list of schools conditionally entitled to share in the annual Parliamentary grant, should rest with the Department.
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW
But who was to be judge of that? It was the Department alone. Was the Department not to take any local advice; not to consult the local district boards, or the local managers? Was all this to be done with Scotch money, administered in London by a Department which did 151 not know the local conditions of either the schools or of the local bodies? The danger was that this central Department, sitting in London, would get into some sort of antagonism with local educational opinion. Then, what was to be the condition of the groups of education districts under the very wonderful provincial councils for education which were to be set up under the 43rd Section? They were to have no legislative power, no money. They were to be a source of expense by having clerks and officers; and they were to be representative in respect of one-half of their members, and not representative in respect of the other half. A fourth of each provincial council was to consist of persons elected by the Senatus Academacus of one or more of the four Scottish Universities; but what return were the Universities going to give for this representation? Another fourth was to be gathered from representatives of superior educational institutions other than Universities throughout Scotland. And the provincial councils were to assist the Department in regard to the adequacy or inadequacy of the provision made for the higher education of the population within any education district. But if the Department and the provincial councils agreed on any subject contrary to the opinion of the locality, farewell to the control of the local authorities. And what would happen if the provincial councils did not agree with each other, or with the Department? The whole thing seemed to him a constriction of the ventilation of ideas. If he thought these provincial councils were to have effective power, he would denounce them as most harmful. It was only because he did not think they would have any power either for harm or good that he did not take a strong line against their constitution. Whether there were four councils or one was all the same to him; all he wanted was representative control from top to bottom.
He regretted that there was any reference in the Bill to the subject of fees. He saw that the School Board might charge a higher scale of fees for pupils resident outside the district of the School Board than for pupils resident within it. He hoped to see the day when any such reference to fees would be regarded as out-of-date. 152 He did not see why any fees should be charged for technical or secondary education in Scotland. There were no fees charged for primary education; and now provision had been made whereby fees were substantially abolished in the Universities. Why should there be, in regard to technical and secondary education, a species of middle punishment? If fees were to be charged by School Boards for primary education, he objected entirely to such a system of classifying the pupils. If pupils came into the national system they should come in as the children of the State, entitled to inheritance of the State, and no distinction or class level should be applied to them. The whole scheme of education should be made, free from top to bottom; and that was the only system by which alone we could compete in technical and secondary education with Germany and the United States. As the House was aware, there were no technical or secondary schools, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, to which American children could not go and where no fees were paid. The only question was whether the charge should be a Federal or a State charge. In Germany, if a technical or secondary school was attended, the pupils escaped two years compulsory military service; and the result was that, in the United States technical and secondary education was free, and in Germany it was almost more than free. Now, in a time when we had such severe competition in business and commerce from these quarters in all parts of the world; when it was our interest to have our workmen, foremen, and leaders of industry well trained in technical and secondary subjects, he thought it was very regrettable that they, in Scotland, could not take the plunge for free, education all round.
He was very anxious that the House should take stock of the situation. He hoped that in the friendly discussions on this Bill, nothing he had said would be taken amiss. His desire was to broaden the Bill and make it applicable to every part of Scotland. They were living in a time of swift progress for education in Scotland. His hope was that they would be able to put Scotland in the very front rank of the nations of the 153 world in regard to technical and secondary education. There was plenty of money available in the circumstances. When they thought of the money available and spent like water for other purposes, they should be proud to give what was comparatively a drop in the bucket for the promotion of the highest and best education of their youth. No doubt there was a rivalry in regard to education among the nations; but it was the best kind of rivalry. They would gain far more national prestige by improving to the highest pitch the education of their people in technical and secondary subjects. In that way they would occupy a loftier and worthier place among the nations of the world by this comparatively limited expenditure than from military vain-glory and costly expenditure on the instruments for the destruction of human life.
* MR. PARKER SMITH (Lanarkshire, Partick)
said that every one who had listened to the speech of his hon. and learned friend must have realised that it was inspired by a thorough desire to make the best of the Bill before the House. He did not agree with his hon. and learned friend on all his points; but these could be discussed in Committee. He did not agree in the gloomy prognostications of the hon. and learned Gentleman in regard to the clause enabling the School Boards to make arrangements with the voluntary schools. He did not think that, under the Bill, the religious difficulty would arise. He doubted whether arrangements could be made with the managers of the Roman Catholic schools by which public control of these schools could be secured. But if they were to strengthen the local Boards in every way they must give them responsibility. The hon. and learned Gentleman was hardly consistent in his argument, because, after objecting to the School Boards having this responsibility over the voluntary schools, he also objected to give power to the Department. One or other must take the responsibility. They were happily free in this discussion from the religious difficulty altogether; and they were able to look at the matter from an educational point of view, and with the sole desire to secure for Scotland all they could in 154 the way of improvement of education. Everyone felt that this Bill was a genuine and honest endeavour to develop education. In Scotland when it was introduced it was received with a strong and unanimous chorus of congratulation; and if since then some criticism had emerged no hostile attack had been made on the measure. It would pass its Second Reading unopposed; and he hoped that in Committee they would have a discussion not marked by ordinary Party divisions but by a desire to take the best line possible from an educational point of view. He was sorry it was not proposed to send the Bill to a Committee such as the Scottish Licensing Bill went through last year. There they had a full representation of Scottish Members interested in licensing, and they were able to discuss the measure with a great deal more freedom than would have been possible on the floor of the House. He would like to see an arrangement of that kind adopted for discussing this Bill also.
He wished to look beyond the question which had been mainly discussed during the afternoon with reference to the division of the country into areas. This was an Education Bill and they ought to consider the great problem set before them from an educational point of view. What were the questions which they ought to have satisfactorily solved if they were to give good education to the people of Scotland? In the first place, they would want to know who were to be the teachers and what were to be their training and qualifications. They should see that the teaching profession was made such that it would attract good material, and that the training given was sufficient to make the best of that material. Then they would want to know what would be done with the children during the long years that the State kept them at school. These were questions to which the greatest skill and attention the country could give should be applied. A long way after those matters came the questions of the organisation of the channels through which the funds of the State came to the schools; how the country was to provide it; and what the system of management was to be. Those were necessary, but subordinate, questions, the chief question 155 being with regard to the teachers, which was all important. In that connection he thought it was a great blot on the Bill that no attempt was made to deal with the question. It was a simple waste of money to pour it out upon schools and classes for special subjects and yet not have a man to take charge of them who not merely knew something of the subject, but who was soaked in the knowledge of it and was able to give children that interest in it, which could only be obtained by contact with a man completely cognisant of it. Much had been recently done both by the Department and by the Universities to improve the training of teachers; but a great, deal still remained to be accomplished. The training colleges were not satisfactory; nominally they were denominational, in fact they were not; and they were practically financed by the State. Of the whole amount of their income last year, namely, £60,000. only £3,000 came from sources other than the State, and the voluntary subscriptions only amounted to £150. He should like to know whether any money could be spent upon training colleges and the training of teachers under the provisions of the Bill. It was not explicitly stated, but it seemed to him it ought to be in the very forefront of the measure, as being the principal object on which funds devoted to education should be expended. There were matters which ought to be under local control; but the training of teachers was one which he did not think that even the greatest of the School Boards desired to undertake, and which certainly would be better undertaken by the country at large. He hoped it would be one of the most prominent objects for the employment of the Education Fund. That was necessary, not only with regard to teachers of general subjects, but even more particularly with regard to teachers of technical and industrial subjects. The training and adequate supply of fully competent teachers was undoubtedly one of the greatest needs of the day. There was no doubt that the position of teachers would be very greatly improved under the system of larger areas proposed by the Bill. Their work would be known and they would have a better chance of promotion. He felt, however, that it 156 was much more important to spend money in seeing that the teaching profession was developed to its utmost extent than in putting a smattering of ill-digested knowledge into the heads of children who soon forgot it.
Then there was the question as to what the children were to be taught. They were now kept at school up to the age of fourteen; but how were they to be occupied? It was not enough to train their intellects only; they should train them morally from the religious point of view, and, as regarded that, happily there was no difficulty to speak of in Scotland. There was, however, another side which was developing itself more and more, and on which all recent inquiries had laid great stress. It was not enough to put undigested fragments of knowledge into their minds. Physical training was essential if future generations were to be strong, healthy, good, and useful citizens. The new education authorities would have to consider that question. In its most extreme form it was a demand for food. In some cases he thought that was necessary. Where, for instance, cripples were brought to school in the morning and kept at school all day, undoubtedly it would be necessary to feed them; but where there was a general demand for food, although it might eventually have to be met, they ought to try first every other method which would be a less dangerous expedient. The teacher should be scientifically trained so that they could sec whether children were fit and healthy, whether they were able to benefit by the teaching that was given them, or whether they were suffering from any physical evil which ought and could be removed. For in-instance, a teacher should know if a child was suffering from deafness which might be cured or whether a child was shortsighted, in which case there ought to be provision for giving such a child glasses. Again, the condition of the children's teeth ought to be watched. The teacher ought to know whether they were able to chew their food properly, or whether they were laying up weaknesses and illnesses for themselves by having a useless set of teeth. Investigations recently made on the subject showed that a great percentage of children were suffering from 157 bad teeth, and that their digestion and whole physical and mental powers suffered in consequence. A short time ago he wrote a letter on the subject to the papers and received a large number of replies giving the opinion of teachers. Only that morning he received a letter from a lady teacher in Scotland, who obviously went through a course of dentistry, stating that she extracted in one afternoon twenty-three teeth from pupils in her school and that they all appeared to be the better for it. There was no risk of pauperising people by extracting their teeth gratuitously. Hitherto there had been boundless and ungrudging expenditure on education in Scotland, but there were now signs of inquiry as to whether value was being obtained for all the money that was paid away in this way. That would come to a head unless more attention was given to the selection of subjects taught to the children. For nine-tenths of the children literary subjects were not the most suitable. They had to look for subjects both suitable for the development of character and such as would give opportunity for training the intelligence of the children and also which would be useful to them in after life. One of the subjects which beat fulfilled these conditions was cooking. That should be taught to every girl, if not to every boy, in their last school years. It was being taught with the best results in many rises. If a proper knowledge of and interest in cooking could be implanted in the minds of the girls and women of Scotland, the results to the country would be overwhelming. In economy, In health, in temperance, the social reform would be incalculable. They had heard much about free food lately, but what was the use of free food if it were cooked so badly that it had to be thrown away, or if the people had no teeth fit to deal with it when it was set before them?
With regard to organisation he desired to see the School Board strong, with local initiative and freedom. He wanted to see the School Boards have responsibility put upon them and form their own opinions. Two points which had met with universal approval were the in- 158 creasing of the area of the education district and the ad hoc bodies. Districts were much better than parishes, but he thought it would be found whim they came to discuss the Bill in detail, it would be better to have counties than districts. There ought, he thought, to be power to divide a county when it was too big, but they might start with a county and cut it up if it was too big. They might find it difficult to lay down hard and fast lines, and perhaps the best solution would be the establishment of a Commission to inquire and to make divisions accordingly. On this question of a division he desired to say a few words with regard to a particular locality—the parish of Govan. That, at the present time, had the third largest School Board in Scotland. The population of the School Board district was over 200,000, and in that district he found a strong objection to the amalgamation with Glasgow which was proposed. It seemed to him that unless a much stronger case of educational and administrative advantage could be made out, the presumption was in favour of letting things alone. He did not in the least believe that the Lord Advocate or anyone else would seek to justify the proposal for amalgamation on any slackness of the School Board of Govan, which was one of the most effective School Boards in Scotland. The two boards were working perfectly harmoniously, the one anxious to continue and the other not wishing to force their friends into amalgamation against their will. He should urge very strongly that the School Board and parish of Govan should be left standing as they were. Having regard to the feeling he had referred to he hoped the Government would consider favourably the proposal to leave Govan as another enumerated area.
Provincial Councils were an excellent plan into bring together the representatives of the Universities and the educational bodies, but satisfaction would not be obtained by four such bodies. There should be a single body covering the whole of Scotland, and Codes and circulars of the Department should, come before that council for criticism before they were laid upon the Table of the House of Commons. Another point on which strong opposition would arise was with regard to the 159 grants that were to be taken from the local authorities and handed over to the control of the Department. On the strength of those funds, the counties had incurred liabilities, and it was impossible that they should be taken away without due warning. The grant of 1892 was not given for education. Out of £100,000 not more than £500 was spent upon education. For his own part he disapproved of their being taken away at all, and a great deal would probably be heard of the proposal before the Bill passed. The local authorities would not grudge money for higher education, but it was far better that they should be allowed to allocate the funds as they thought best, than that the money should be taken away and placed under the control of the Department. He intended cordially to support the Bill, but he hoped that in Committee the points to which he had referred would be treated as open questions so that they might be discussed fully and frankly with the single view of doing what was best for the education of Scotland.
§ * MR. CHARLES DOUGLAS (Lanarkshire, N.W.)
believed the Bill to be an honest attempt to deal with a situation which urgently called for attention. National optimism had ltd the people of Scotland to be too long satisfied with the existing condition of affairs. In the years immediately following the creation of School Boards there was a great increase of educational interest throughout the country, and the work of the School Boards was essentially the active work of developing that interest and creating the fabric of education under the guidance and with the support of the Scorch Education Department. In recent years, however, that state of matters had altered for the worse. During the last fifteen years the position of the School Boards had been much more passive; they had exercised a much smaller degree of initiative; and in all matters of importance and in many of detail they had been practically deposed by the Department governing from London. Out of this condition of affairs, two great defects had developed themselves—first, a loss of local initiative, with the consequent loss of local interest; and, secondly, a 160 lack of close co-ordination between the local systems under which primary and secondary education were administered. For his own part, he plainly declared his belief that this Bill was an honest, vigorous, and he hoped it would be a successful, attempt to deal with that state of affairs. It was generally admitted that, for the proper co-ordination of primary and secondary education, a great extension of local administrative areas was necessary. On that point he was glad the hon. Member for Banffshire had not moved his Amendment, because otherwise many Members would have been placed in the difficult position of having to choose between affirming a proposition which was theoretically indisputable and attempting to select the best from among the existing areas, every one of which was doubtless open to objection. The task of creating fresh areas solely for the local administration of education would have broken down any Education Bill, and the Government had acted wisely in selecting the local government areas. It ought not to be beyond the skill of the Secretary for Scotland and his advisers, with the assistance of the Committee, to obviate some of the difficulties which would be brought out in discussion, without in any way departing from the principle they had adopted.
Another question for consideration was that of the voluntary schools. That was not a very large problem in Scotland, but in certain respects it was a very acute one. There were communities of poor Catholic parents, mainly Irish, who not only contributed from their slender resources to the rates for the maintenance of schools in which denominational theology was taught, but also chose to have their children educated in separate Catholic schools which they had to support out of their own pockets without assistance from the rates. That was not an altogether justifiable state of affairs, and he would be greatly surprised if it produced a state of pure and idyllic content. He entirely agreed that it would be much better that the State should have nothing whatever to do with the teaching of religion. The State had no right to impose the tests which were really necessary if religious education was to be anything more than a name. 161 That solution of the difficulty, however, was not practicable, and in Scotland they were debarred also from the "Cowper-Temple" solution of an uncontroversial form of religious belief, because the view held by his fellow-countrymen as a whole would be that no theological proposition was uncontroversial unless it was supremely unimportant. Under these circumstances, denominational teaching was necessary, and that policy should be tempered with the utmost generosity towards any large minority of parents who wished separate provision to be made for their children. It would be a deplorable result if that necessity should lead to the introduction of religious controversy into the School Board elections. Personally, he did not anticipate such a result, because he believed the people in the districts chiefly affected would be sincerely disposed to do justice all round. It was difficult to see how the matter could be dealt with otherwise than as proposed, as the Department would find it an impossible task to deal separately with all the schools and decide in each particular case whether or not the school should have assistance from the rates. It was essentially a matter of local fact and circumstance, to be dealt with as each individual case demanded, and as such it was one of the subjects most proper to be committed to a School Board to which other large and important duties were to be entrusted.
The central difficulty of the Bill would probably be found in the method by which it proposed to deal with educational finance. With regard to Part III. of this Bill, the policy might be summed up by saying that they would have to pool everyshilling which they could get for education and hand it over to the Department. The sum they were dealing with was over £540,000, but the greater part of that money was now controlled by the local authorities. There was £440,000 of that total which was not under the control of the Department at all. Therefore, this Bill in regard to its proposal upon this point represented a very great increase in the power given to the Education Department which he thought they ought to observe. To take the control of so large a sum from the elected representatives 162 of the ratepayers who, hitherto, had been able to use the money in reduction of the rates, practically amounted to granting the power to the Education Department of imposing rates upon those localities.
§ * MR. CHARLES DOUGLAS
said he would give the details to the right hon. Gentleman later on, but whether he was right or not in his figures he thought the Secretary for Scotland would agree that there was in the Bill a very considerable extension of the powers given to the Department for dealing with Scotch money. It was recognised elsewhere in the Bill that this great extension of the powers of the Department was to carry with it a greater security for the Department's action being in conformity with the opinion of the people in Scotland. Otherwise this Bill would constitute an almost impossible claim on behalf of the Department. They were most willing to follow the right hon. Gentleman in an educational raid upon whatever funds might be available for educational purposes, but they wanted to be sure that at the end the fruit of their victory would not be a system of indentured School Board labour. They wished to take some good security for having control in view of the very great additional power they were asked to give to the Department. In his judgment the possibility of consenting to the conditions of Part III. depended upon whether they were to be fully satisfied as to the effect of what was provided under Part IV. He welcomed the scheme provided under the latter part as an admission that more consultation was required by the Department than under present circumstances existed. The Parliamentary control was admittedly inadequate, and no one supposed that it was adequate. Once a year the subject of education was discussed in Committee of the House, and the action of the Department was generally debated only after it had been already taken. They had no real control of administration in the divisions which took place in Committee of the 163 House. For the most part the divisions were taken upon the ordinary Party lines, which had really less to do with Scotch education than with any other subject. Scottish opinion was often over-ruled; last year the right hon. Gentleman disposed of a sum of money that fell to Scottish education as an equivalent grant really against the opinion, practically, of all the non-official Scotch Members in this House. I here had only been about three occasions during the last thirty years on which the opinions of Scotch Members had effected any serious change in the policy of the Department. It might be possible to strengthen Parliamentary control under this Bill, but whether that was so or not, he did not think the control they could exercise in the House of Commons could ever be adequate for the growing needs of educational work in Scotland, and it must be supplemented by more constant and more detailed consultation. The Bill admitted this, but he was not so sure that this measure, as it stood, adequately provided what was required in that respect.
As for the scheme of advisory councils, he did not agree with everything that had fallen from the hon. Member for the Border Burghs upon this point. He thought the idea which underlay this proposal was a sound and practicable one. The idea that they could create and should create an organised body of educational opinion for consultation about administrative action was a good one, and the function of any such body must obviously be purely an advisory function. But if it were known that in a matter of educational policy the opinion of Scotland was dead against the Education Department, he did not think so ill of that Department as to suppose that it would pursue a course to which Scottish opinion was opposed. In exercising these functions he thought those councils, if they were properly created, might usefully supplement the more authoritative but much less detailed control which this House had over Scotch education. He thought this proposal would create and focus educational opinion in Scotland by some such method of consultation. I He believed that such a scheme as might exist in the Bill when it left their hands would be likely to bring the Department 164 in much closer contact with the problems with which it had to deal. The existence of such councils offered to those who were engaged in the local work of education a position of real influence and an opportunity of getting at the discussion of large questions of policy, which he believed they would cordially welcome and which might be an additional inducement to men of ability and position to take part in the work of local educational bodies. He felt bound to ask those who opposed the scheme whether they believed that all these objects were being secured, as they ought to be secured, in Scotland now, and if not, he wished to know how those who objected to the creation of advisory councils thought they could make any progress towards attaining those most important objects. If those were sound and important objects, then they had to consider how far the provisions in this Bill really met the case.
In the first place, as to the constitution of these councils, he did not share the objection that was felt to giving the Universities a place on the board of such bodies. He thought it was very important that they should have such a place. They were the natural heart and centre of the educational life of Scotland, and it could not be advisable when they were trying to bring all their educational organisations together to leave the Universities out in the cold. The defects in the Scotch University system had been alluded to; he had for eighteen years worked in a Scotch University, and he was sure that whatever defects there might be in the Scotch University system, they would be best removed by bringing those Universities, which were indispensable to the intellectual and educational life of the country, into more and more living contact with what was going on educationally throughout the provinces, and throughout the whole country districts of Scotland. One or two points were not quite clear in regard to the representative element on those councils; he was glad the right hon. Gentleman had made the representative element definitely predominate; blithe did not know why the county councils had been brought in. In a municipal Bill to municipalise education he could have understood 165 the county council being brought in, but under this Bill, if they were to have a representative element, it should represent those, and those only, who were actually engaged in the administrative work of education and who were conversant with it. For the moment there might be on the county councils persons who had taken an active part in educational work in the various counties, but that might not always be so; and it was pretty certain that it would not always be so; and they would not always have as members of county councils those who had taken part in School Board work. Therefore he thought the right hon. Gentleman, ought to reconsider his, proposals upon this point.
Why should there be four provincial councils? The reason could not be that there was a desire to associate the Universities with them, because the districts of the councils did not follow the districts of the Universities. Indeed, strictly speaking, the Universities of Scotland had no provincial districts. The University of Aberdeen might to some extent have a provincial district, but in the case of Edinburgh only 55 per cent. of the Scottish entrants came from that city itself or any county that could possibly be regarded as within an Edinburgh province, while the remainder came from all over the country. A really national council was what was wanted and what would work. On the other hand, a national council, considering the work it must do if it existed, must act very largely through provincial committees. He suggested that provincial committees could be appointed with power to create from themselves a national joint committee to consider matters of common interest and importance. Unless the provincial councils got power to act together in matters affecting them all, he did not think they would have a scheme which would really work well or satisfy the demand that existed in Scotland. There was no provision in the Bill for common action. If the Secretary for Scotland still stuck to his proposal for four provincial councils, he hoped he would not persist in preventing common action. Cynical and frivolous men had said that the right 166 hon. Gentleman would keep the four provincial councils separate because he desired that their views should conflict, so that the views of the Scotch Education Department might the more easily prevail. He did not for a moment associate himself with that accusation. He was sure the right hon. Gentleman had brought in the scheme because he thought it was a good one, and that he really meant it to work. He thought, however, the right hon. Gentleman would find it easier to work with one council, or with four councils allowed to combine, than with four councils kept separate in their work. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would deal with the whole subject in the spirit of compromise which he generally displayed on such occasions and in such matters. It would be no way out of the difficulty to drop this part of the Bill, for, if he dropped it, he would greatly aggravate the difficulty that would exist for all of them in respect of the financial provisions of the Bill. He was confident that this part and the other parts also were capable of being dealt with, and would be dealt with, in Committee in such a way as to send out a really good Bill which would give the people of Scotland the opportunity of dealing with the educational needs of the country.
§ Sir CHARLES RENSHAW (Renfrewshire, W.)
said he believed if there was any necessity for a council such as was suggested by the Bill, it would be infinitely better to have one strong council representing the new School Boards—very much in the way that they had a County Councils Association representing the different counties throughout Scotland—rather than one constituted in the somewhat indefinite way suggested. The hon. Member for North West Lanark thought there was no reason why members of the county councils should not go on the new provincial councils. He was himself a member of a county council, and he had been very much associated with county councils as a member of the County Councils Association, but he could not see why any special representation should be given either to counties or burghs on the provincial councils. It seemed to him that if they were to have anything of the kind established it ought 167 to be one body, and that made as strong as possible. He had the gravest doubts as to the necessity for such a body, because he thought if it was called into existence at all it would have the effect of weakening the School Boards. If it was to be formed it should be one authority, accurately representing the views of the new School Boards, and entrusted with the duties which must be devolved on some central authority, such as the training of teachers.
The question to which he wished specially to refer was that of the area to be selected for the purpose of the new educational authority. Diverse views had been expressed by the hon. Members who had addressed the House on this matter. Having been associated with district councils and county councils in connection with local government work he thought it would be very much better if the county were taken as the unit for the new authority, with power, possibly subject to the sanction of the Secretary for Scotland, to subdivide itself into proper educational areas. He asked the House to remember that the districts which were to be taken as units for educational work were formed for the purpose of administering the Roads and Bridges Act and matters connected with public health. It never came into the mind of anyone when these districts were carried out for the purposes of local government that they would be applied to educational purposes. He instanced his own county as showing the undesirability of adopting that method without any consideration at all, as the area for educational purposes. In the county of Renfrew there were two big burghs—Paisley and Greenock—and the county naturally divided itself into two districts, the upper and the lower. They had some experience in the working out of educational schemes, and it had been found that the existing divisions of the county were quite unsuitable for educational purposes. His view was that the best area to take was the county, and that the new educational authorities, whenever they had been elected, should make out their own schemes. If such a scheme as that were adopted he should be in favour of postponing the 168 operation of the Bill for a year, and appointing a small Commission to inquire into the best way of grouping the areas throughout the whole of Scotland for educational work. That must involve a short delay, but the county councils would be in possession of all the facts, and it would give a proper system of division for educational purposes in the future. They would also be able to make it perfectly certain that a great deal of the usefulness of their work would not be dissipated by hard and fast lines of division.
There was one point in connection with the subject of areas that he would like the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Scotland to give the House some assurance on; and that was that full power would be given for co-operation between neighbouring districts. He looked upon these larger areas as likely to be fraught with good consequences for education in Scotland. He was a member of one of the first School Boards in Scotland, elected in 1873, and remained a member for twenty-one years. He had watched with regret the way in which the School Boards had tended to go down in public estimation of late years. The fact was, the Department had laid its chilling hand on the work of the small School Boards, and the people of Scotland had come to realise that the power was not in the hands of the School Boards, but in that of the Department and of the teachers. That was a great danger to future educational progress in Scotland, and he sincerely hoped that one result of the Bill would be to entrust the new and larger educational authorities with real responsibility for the work they had to do. He appealed to the Government not to cramp their efforts by swathing them round with Departmental bandages. Forty-six per cent, of the total expenditure incurred in Scotland for educational work was raised by rates, and he contended that there ought to be greater freedom granted to the local representatives in connection with the system of educational management.
With regard to the financial proposals in the Bill, he thought they were without precedent. It was unfortunate that although they were to have district administration, they were to 169 have a parochial rate, and an antiquated method of levying that rate. All the elaborate system of deductions under which the amount of rates were veiled and disguised were to be continued. If the district was to be taken as a unit he should say that, so far as current expenditure was concerned, the district of the county and the burgh should be the authority through whom the rates should I be collected, and collected not subject to the deductions to which he had referred. The rates should be uniform throughout the burgh or the district, and should be levied on the gross assessment value, except in the ease of agricultural lands. It would then be made perfectly clear that those who were called upon to elect representatives on the School Board knew what the rate really was. In his own county, where they had eleven classified parishes, if the system of financing in the Bill was adopted, he would defy anyone to make clear what it was the various ratepayers would be called upon to pay. What was wanted in order to secure economy in administration was that there should be a uniform municipal, district, or county rate, so that everyone would be able to know that he was paying the same rate as his neighbour. No doubt questions would be raised in Committee as to the way in which it was proposed to charge the amount of existing debts on the parishes. He could not bring himself to sea that it would be equitable to throw the entire charge on the district or county as a unit. The difficulty arose not so much as to the disparity of the amount as to the number of years over which the debt charges were spread. In his own Division of the county he found that, in respect of repayments for debt, the charge varied from '64 of a penny to 4.94d. Over the whole county it amounted to 4d. in one district and 3d. in another. The burgh of Renfrew long ago paid off almost the whole of its debt, and at the present time the amount of charge per head of the population was only 4s. 8d., but in the case of the landward part of the parish of Renfrew, where an enormous population had grown up, the total amount of debt, all of which had recently been incurred, amounted to over £6 per head of the population. Therefore, it would be a great hardship if they were to say that 170 Renfrew burgh and Renfrew landward were to be placed in the same position. In regard to other financial questions raised in other parts of the Bill, he found himself in substantial agreement with the hon. Member for North West Lanark. The equivalent grant represented 1½d. in the £ on the total assessable value in Scotland. That grant had been spent through a long series of years by the county and municipal authorities for very useful purposes, and it had relieved the rates to that extent. If that money was to be taken away now and put into the central Education Fund, it was perfectly obvious that the whole of the amount would have to be collected by additional rates directly, and in the future. If the equivalent grant was added to the new Education Fund, was there any guarantee that, in every district in every part of Scotland, the money would be needed for immediate educational purposes? He did not think so. It would, he believed, take several years before there would be a call on that money for educational purposes. If that were so, he asked the House to pause before they agreed to the proposition that this money was to be taken away from the authorities who had hitherto spent it usefully for practical purposes, and placed in the Education Fund. There was another reason why this £100,000 should not be placed in the central fund. It would check the tendency to extravagance on the part of the new authorities, if these had to levy a rate for every new expenditure that was required. The greatest blot on the Bill was that the newly created fund was placed too much under the control of the Education Department, and that the hands of the new authorities were tied in every conceivable way. He contended that that was a wrong thing. The money should be made available to those who would carry out their extended work under the new educational system in Scotland on a fair and equitable basis, such a basis that the local authorities should feel the responsibility they incurred in administration. When they were about to make an educational revolution in Scotland they ought to be certain that the new authorities would be so strong and so representative that they need not hesitate to trust 171 them with the responsibility of administering the funds which ought to be placed at their disposal.
He should like to ask his right hon. friend whether the sanitary provisions of the measure had been carefully considered with regard to their effect on the existing system of local government. He had some experience of local government, and one thing he hated above all others was two authorities coming in and doing the same work. That occurred in connection with the administration of the Factory Acts in Scotland. The Home Office had a certain amount of power, and the local sanitary authorities had also a certain amount of power; but he did not think it was a good thing for the factory system of Scotland that that arrangement obtained. Up to the present the whole authority with reference to the sanitation of schools rested with the borough and county authorities. This Bill proposed to put responsibility for sanitation not only on the School Boards but also on the Department. He ventured to submit that that was undesirable. If extended powers were to be given in regard to the sanitary inspection of schools, let them establish a system by which the work could be carried out by the School Boards. He would object strongly to anything in the nature of a dual authority. He thanked the House for the indulgence with which they had listened to him; and he heartily hoped that the measure would really contribute to the development and success of education in Scotland.
§ MR. HALDANE (Haddingtonshire)
said that the Bill, and the debate which had taken place on it, presented one feature at least of great general interest. It showed how much controversy might be inherent in a non-controversial measure. The speech of the hon. Baronet who had just spoken must make the Secretary for Scotland feel that he would do well to speak with the enemy within the gates, and also to take counsel with hon. Members on that side of the House, as they might come to his assistance when the Committee stage was reached. Everybody wanted this Bill and everybody approved of some feature in it; but nobody was satisfied with all the details. 172 The controversy was not running on Party lines; and he hoped that in Committee the right hon. Gentleman would show himself as skilful as he generally was in rallying round him support from various parts of the House that would be given to him in return for the consideration of other points in the Bill, in order that by the co-operation of the intelligence of Scotland on both sides of the House they should be able to produce a really workmanlike measure.
What was the feature of the Bill on which general criticism had been concentrated? No severer way of putting it could have come from any hon. Member than came from the hon. Baronet as regarded that feature of the Bill which had attracted so much attention. He meant the position which the Scottish Education Department retained, in some respects in an aggravated form, under the new education scheme. Let them contrast the condition of Scotland to-day under these propositions with the position of Wales at the hands of the English Education Department as they read of it in The Times newspaper that morning. Wales was in controversy with the Education Department; yet the Education Department was not afraid, notwithstanding its controversy with Wales, to recognise the right of Wales to be consulted very largely in administrative matters. The Welsh Intermediate Education Act of 1899, laid the foundation of that principle, the principle being to treat Wales as a nationality entitled to have some control in her own educational system, to be looked at as a whole and as having a national opinion which ought to make itself manifest in the shaping of the educational system of the country. By the Act of 1902 the existing machinery was recognised, and to-day Wales was recognised by the Department as a nation with national characteristics of education. The unfortunate Scotchmen were in a very different position. They had a very able Education Department, which was too powerful in the past and too powerful to-day. Under this Bill the Education Department would retain the uncontrolled disposition of very large funds, the application of which would shape to a very large extent the educational system of Scotland. There was 173 no way of getting out of the fact that the position of the Education Department in London would be just as powerful relatively to Scotland under the new system as it was under the present system. Like his hon. and learned friend the Member for the Border Burghs he should like to see a system established in Scotland which would be so strong and so powerful that no Education Department would be able to neglect it. It was easily possible to take the School Boards and set them off one against the other. Again, the history of Scottish education since 1872 had been that the teaching profession and the Education Department were getting stronger and stronger at the expense of the representative element in education in Scotland. It might have been expected that the time had arrived for the construction of a scheme under which that would have been met to some extent. It would have been expected, for instance, that the new School Boards with large areas would have some machinery by which they could meet in council, and possess a central organisation, just as Wales had, to determine the main features of the educational policy of Scotland.
Let them consider the application of all the funds which would be distributed by the Scottish Education Department. Surely the principle on which those funds were to be applied ought to be the very thing which ought to be pronounced upon by representatives of Scottish educational opinion. He should not have been content to take the representatives of the new School Boards; but he should desire to see the expert opinion of Scotland—and there was a great deal of the very finest expert opinion in Scotland—brought into play in this matter. He should have liked to have seen the Universities taking their part in those deliberations, which would shape the educational system of the country from top to bottom. In that way a scheme would be determined in accordance with the sentiments of Scotland in connection with education which had its own characteristics just as much as education in Wales had. Instead of that, they were left under this system a Scottish Education Department divorced from any contact 174 with Scottish educational opinion excepting so far as that opinion became known to the representative of the Department permanently settled in Edinburgh. He was very glad to learn that the right hon. Gentleman proposed that a real representative of the Department should permanently reside in Scotland, and be accessible to Scottish educationists. Nothing short of a very much more complete decentralisation of the powers of the Department was, however, adequate to the necessities of the case. He quite sympathised with the desire of the right hon. Gentleman to have his officials and officers in London during the sitting of Parliament. They did not ask that that should be altered; if that must be, let it be. But they did ask that some more real control in the shaping of the educational policy of Scotland should be given to Scottish opinion.
There was another feature of the Bill which gave rise to a great deal of discussion, but which seemed to him to present a much more satisfactory result. He thought the Secretary for Scotland was to be congratulated on the way the religious difficulty had been met. He had more sympathy than his hon. friend the Member for the Border Burghs with the position of denominations in Scotland. For instance, he thought that the Episcopalians, who were a considerable body in the large towns, had been rather badly treated by the Scottish School Boards. In Edinburgh, for example, the Episcopalians, who were a very representative element there, desired that in one school at least they should be allowed to give their own religious teaching instead of sending their children to schools governed by the Presbyterian majority on the School Board, where they would be taught in accordance with the Cowper-Temple clause. The answer was that that was not desirable, and it was not done. The clause of the right hon. Gentleman would, however, allow the local education authorities to give some recognition to voluntary schools; and if that policy commended itself to the authorities then it would be possible for recognition to be given to the teaching of denominational religion in voluntary schools without upsetting the system which 175 prevailed in the Board schools. Having said that, he desired to express his entire concurrence with what his hon. friend the Member for the Border Burghs said with reference to secularism. He proposed to leave the denominations to look after their own business; and he believed that the time was very near when they would have a very substantial majority in the House of Commons in favour of the conclusion that it was impossible for the State to go on tinkering any longer, and making failure after failure in the attempt to solve the impossible problem as to how the secular arm was to deal with the religious difficulty. He thought that the Secretary for Scotland was to be congratulated on the Bill as it stood, not because it was not open to the criticism of his hon. and learned friend, but because that criticism was the necessary outcome of the rooted tendency of the Scottish people to recognise denominational teaching in the schools.
As to the question of areas, the difficulty arose from the fact that the areas were not selected for educational purposes. He knew of cases where the secondary school was the secondary school of large districts on the right and left of it, which now found itself on the border, and would therefore be cut off from a large body of the children which it served. He knew no way of getting out of the difficulty which arose except by allowing powers of combination of a more explicit kind than were given in the Bill, and he hoped the Government would take the initiative in Committee in devising means of getting out of what was a very serious practical difficulty. He also hoped that the problem of the training of teachers would be put on a better basis. It was a perfect scandal that the training of teachers should be left haphazard as it was at the present time. Then, with regard to the provincial councils, he stood strongly by them. He knew the right hon. Gentleman was not likely to yield on the point of a really strong central council, and therefore he welcomed the provincial councils as a buffer against the Department. He agreed that these provincial councils were shorn of much power, but the advantage of having them, he thought, would be soon seen, and it might be that something might be done to strengthen their position in Committee. He would like to see their opinion invited 176 upon all the minutes, and he would like a clause to be put into the Bill saying that all minutes should be sent down for the consideration of the provincial councils, so that the opinion of Scotland might be known with regard to them. He would not be doing his duty as a Scottish representative if he did not state how much opinion in Scotland was resenting the growing dominance of the Education Department. The Department was a sufficiently able Department, but it ought to get more into touch with popular feeling in the future than it had done in the past. In the management clauses the right hon. Gentleman had a most difficult problem to solve. While the right hon. Gentleman had probably done wisely to I keep some local management, he must reconsider the situation carefully in the light of the expressions of opinion which were heard on this subject. Certainly the appointment of teachers should be outside the scope of the managers' functions, and he hoped the Bill would be made clear on that point. In its main features he thought the right hon. Gentleman had produced a measure which would make the organisation of the Scottish system a little more up-to-date than it was. Secondary education in Scotland was utterly unorganised, and his doubt was whether there was sufficient provision for bringing it into such a unified form as would afford an adequate system. They had, however, a beginning of a new system, and it was their business to make all they could of it, and, when they had got it, to use it to their utmost capacity.
* Sir JOHNTUKE (Edinburgh and St. Andrews' Universities)
I would not have intervened at this stage were it not that the hon. Baronet the Member for Renfrew expressed doubts as to the propriety of providing for the medical inspection of schools and school children. I consider such a provision to be of the utmost importance, and my thanks are due to the Secretary for Scotland for introducing the provision into the Bill. I regard it very much as a suggestion to all School Boards to appoint medical officers for this purpose. Anyone who has studied the Report on Physical Training presented to the House a year 177 ago must realise the fact that a serious amount of disease exists amongst the school children in the large cities and towns. I cannot homologate all the statements made in this Report, but there exists in it sufficient evidence to warrant the introduction into this Bill of a clause permitting the expenditure of money on medical inspection. I trust if this Bill becomes law that every School Board will institute such inspection. In so doing the School Boards will only be following the example of London, Bradford, and many other cities in England. It has been suggested that the work of the school medical inspector might clash with the sanitary authorities. This has not occurred in the English cities I have alluded to, and in point of fact, the duties of the two classes of officers would be entirely different. The school inspector would deal with individuals, which is outside the province of the sanitary inspector. It is not the duty, nor is it in the power, of the latter to look into the condition of individuals, for instance—it is not the duty of the sanitary inspector to examine into the condition of the eyesight of the children. This is a matter of great importance, for not only may visual errors become aggravated by school discipline, but it is open to question whether certain parts of the course of instruction are not detrimental. I allude to the teaching of sewing at a too early age. But, Sir, the whole question of school hygiene needs to be regarded seriously, and the first steps towards efficiency in this respect is the appointment of medical inspectors. Before I sit down I desire to allude to what I consider to be a serious omission in the Bill, the absence of any provision for the alimentation of underfed children. I do not think this is the proper stage to discuss this point in all its relationships, but I purpose putting down an Amendment to Clause 31 which will raise the whole question.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
said that although Members were agreed in desiring to accept the Bill, the Second Reading debate afforded an opportunity of calling attention to points upon which controversy might arise in Committee. He would divide his remarks, like a Scotch sermon, under three heads—the 178 good points, the bad points, and the doubtful points of the Bill. One of the very best features of the measure was the proposed consolidation of the different funds applicable to education. The various Acts and Minutes which had been passed since 1890 had introduced such an amount of complication into Scotch educational finance as to render it beyond the comprehension of anybody in the House except perhaps of the Secretary for Scotland and one of the hon. Members for Lanark. The Bill would simplify all that, and in future it would be possible to know the amount of money that was being spent and the purposes to which it was being applied. A consolidation of authorities would also be effected, and it was much to the credit of the county and town councils that they had raised no complaint against the provisions by which they would be dispossessed of the educational functions at present exercised by them. The Association of County Councils had approved of the creation of an ad hoc body although it, deprived them of the administration of technical education. The clauses relating to endowments were valuable, and ought to lead to considerable improvement. Clause 42 also contained a valuable provision by which the Education Department would be enabled to call upon a local authority to show that it had made adequate provision for secondary and technical instruction. The further development of secondary and technical instruction was of supreme importance, and considerable improvement would probably result from its closer association with elementary education and the provision of further funds. The abolition of the cumulative vote, which was generally admitted to have worked badly, was another good point in the Bill; and a further merit was that everywhere in Scotland there would be an authority expressly created for educational purposes. The working of the English Act of 1902 had already shown how much better it would have been had a similar course been followed in England, instead of the work of education being cast upon authorities already overburdened. The unification in the administration of education in Scotland would be real, because they had 179 a body specially competent to deal with the matter, whereas in England the alleged unification was a sham, because the county and town councils were obliged to delegate their functions to committees and were unable to exercise real control. An incidental benefit was that in Scotland, by their presence on the educational authority, women would be able to continue to give valuable assistance in connection with the education of girls. Altogether the people of England might well wish they had an Act framed on the lines of the Scotch Bill instead of the measure passed in 1902. The present Bill not only followed the old lines and preserved Scotch traditions, but it was drafted in accordance with the popular opinion of the country; and, because it recognised popular control and rested upon popular sympathy, it would probably work well.
Among the points which would certainly require consideration in Committee was the important provision contained in Clause 38 with regard to the funds applicable to Scotch education generally, over and above the Parliamentary grant. The funds there dealt with were to be placed under the absolute control of the Department. The money provided under the Acts of 1890 and 1892 had hitherto been under the control of the local authorities, and stood on a different footing from the funds under the control of the Education Department. The grant under the Act of 1890 could be applied, at the discretion of the local authority, either to technical education or to the relief of rates; and, as a rule, the authorities had applied the greater part of the money to education. Some of the local authorities, including the town council of Aberdeen, desired to retain the power of applying a portion of the money to the rates, if they thought fit so to do. Personally, he had ever favoured that view, but the fact that it was entertained in some quarters ought to be stated. But it was going a great deal further, and trifling much more emphatically with the view of local authorities in Scotland to take the control of the money under the Acts of 1890 and 1892 entirely out of the hands of the local authorities, who not unreasonably resented the proposal. Their view was that they had local knowledge and local 180 responsibility, and that they had discharged that responsibility in a manner of which the Department had had no reason to complain, and which on the whole had given satisfaction in the respective areas; they desired to know, therefore, why they should be deprived of the power they had enjoyed, and which had done much to stimulate local interest and local initiative. The county councils were willing to resign the administration of this Act. It was taken away from them and given to the district School Boards by the Bill. They thought a special authority was better, but they did say that as the money had been well administered in the locality no cause had been shown for taking it away from the locality and giving it to the Department. Personally, he agreed l with hon. Members who had spoken in thinking that the Department had too much power, and they would be giving too great a function to the Department if they entrusted it with the uncontrolled administration of the whole of this money. He did not think the laying of the Minutes on the Table of this House or the creation of provincial councils would check the autocracy of the Scotch Education Department. He acknowledged the great zeal, ability, and energy of the permanent head of the Education Department, for he did not think they had a more efficient public servant, and they were indebted to him for the patriotism, talent, and industry he had shown. They could not, however, always be sure of having an equally competent Scotchman at the head of the Department. He thought better results would be obtained by leaving a large share of this money to be locally administered. That part of this money which had hitherto been applied in aid of the relief of rates had fallen entirely upon occupiers in burghs, but if a rate had to be imposed to provide for local expenditure which hitherto the locality had provided for out of these funds, it would fall upon owners and occupiers alike. Therefore it was suggested by the burghs that, should this provision of the Bill be carried, arrangements ought to be made in the interests of the occupiers to ensure that that relief which they had hitherto had as against the owners should not be lost to them in the future. In Aberdeen it would make a 181 difference of £800, and in a city like Glasgow it would make a still greater difference. But there was another aspect of the question. Great centres of population like Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Dundee contributed very largely to the funds which the Bill proposed to assign to the Scotch Education Department to administer. The taxable revenue from these great cities formed part of the fund which the Education Department might spend, and these cities might reasonably say that as they contributed a great deal more than other districts, regard ought to be had to their population in distributing the funds. It would be in the power of the Department to apply the money more largely to other parts of Scotland, and leave the cities to shift for themselves. No doubt the Department would have a reasonable regard to the population and needs of the great cities, but the cities should feel that they had some further security which could be given by entrusting the administration of a large part of this fund to the School Boards in those cities.
There were two or three points in which the Bill wanted amendment. There was the power given to the district School Boards to apply money in aid of voluntary schools. However much one wished that no question of religious controversy should arise, they could not shut their eyes to facts, and already this question had been raised in Scotland, and would no doubt be raised in Committee on this Bill. His hon. friend had already pointed out that if they gave this power to the district School Boards they were almost certain to bring not only into the debates of the School Boards but also into the electoral contests for members of those boards an element of dissension which had not yet existed, and he thought that would be a very unfortunate thing. They had had practically up to the present no sectarian differences in Scotland, and he was afraid that this provision would necesarily involve the taking of sides upon religious questions on Scotch School Boards where there were present the representatives of a considerable population interested in voluntary schools. Would it not be much better that the support of voluntary schools should come more out of other sources rather than 182 from one which was likely to lead to the introduction of religious differences? There was another point in the Bill which might give rise to some trouble. Section 39 laid down the purposes to which the Scotch Education Department might apply the very large sums it had to administer, and that section contained words which would enable it to make grants to sectarian institutions giving secondary education. The Liberal Party had always protested against giving any public money to any sectarian schools for secondary education; and they could not acquiesce in the provision enabling the Department to make grants to sectarian secondary schools. They had always protested against the grant to King's College, London, because it was to a small extent of a sectarian character, but that difficulty was removed by King's College getting rid of its sectarian character. They had always protested against any grants being made to sectarian institutions, and that was one of the points which ought to be expunged from this Bill. The section fixing the election to the district School Board at the same time as the county council or the burgh council election, however it might operate in the counties, would not work well in the burghs. The Scottish burghs had expressed a strong opinion that both elections would suffer in consequence. It was quite true that in countries where they had a multiplicity of elections it might be an advantage to have several elections at the same time in order to relieve people from being in a continual electoral turmoil. But they had not so many elections in this country as all that, for they only came round once in three years. The issues were quite different to those for which they were elected on the borough council, and the subject had nothing in common. Borough council elections were enough to engage the whole mind of the district, and so was the School Board election, and the view of the Scotch burghs was that this system would introduce great confusion and prevent the real will and mind of the people being duly expressed if the two elections were taken at the same time. They were of opinion that it would be a great deal better to have the School Board election by itself. When they got to the Committee stage he 183 should be prepared to adduce the reasons which the Scotch burghs put forward for that view, and he hoped they would have weight with the Secretary for Scotland.
With regard to the establishment of provincial councils, after the various opinions which had been expressed upon this point by Scotch Members, he thought the Secretary for Scotland would be pretty safe in adhering to his proposal. In his opinion to have four provincial councils would give much less efficacy to the system than if they had one national council. Each of the four councils would be comparatively weak, and it was very doubtful whether the best men in a locality would be induced to become candidates for such councils, because their powers would be very small. None of them would speak with any great authority upon Scotch questions, and they would not have sufficient influence to be any kind of a check upon the Scotch Education Department. He thought it would be a much better plan to have one national council, because if they had four councils their proceedings would be of so little interest that the newspapers would hardly care to report them. Of course it was said that the Highlands wanted a body for themselves. He quite agreed that there was some thing to be slid for that suggestion, but the object could be obtained in another way. If there was a national council it could he allowed to appoint four district committees, and the needs of the Highlands could be met by a committee sitting at Inverness. It could also be provided that the council instead of always meeting at Edinburgh should meet from time to time in other centres. If the council met at Inverness sometimes it could consider the wants of the Highlands. In that way they would help to stimulate Scotch local opinion on education and to create a more lively interest in education than unfortunately at present existed in Scotland. Those who had tried to ascertain what Scotch opinion on education was must have been struck by the fact that there were very few people in Scotland who took an interest in the general education of the country. He hoped the Lord Advocate 184 would adhere to the proposal, although he thought it might be improved by setting up one council.
In regard to the question of areas, great diversity of opinion had been expressed on the subject. The hon. Member for Banffshire argued in favour of keeping the parish, and the hon. Members for Renfrewshire and North West Lanarkshire were in favour of the county. No doubt there was a great deal to be said for both. Ho would suggest whether some scheme might not be found to meet the objection raised against the district as being too small for secondary education. The county was too large an area for elementary education. The safer plan would be to take the parish as the primary unit for elementary education, to unite with a free hand the parishes where they were small, and so to create areas in many cases of the size of the present districts. The efficient area for secondary education so as to enable the union of parishes to form a federated body for the area, was the county or two small counties, and in that way they might organise secondary education for the larger area. By this means they would preserve the benefit of unity. That would retain the merits of the scheme while meeting the objections which had been taken to it.
Lastly, there was the question of delegation to managers. He admitted that there was great difficulty in that question, and he would like to keep an open mind upon it. It was an important question, especially in regard to the appointment of teachers. There was a strong feeling that the appointment of teachers ought to go to the School Board. He thought the Secretary for Scotland knew that the borrowing powers ought to be somewhat enlarged. They would be able to administer finance in a better way if they had larger powers. None of these points—not even those which he thought were blemishes on the Bill as it stood—raised any Party issue. Even that question which might seem to raise a Party issue—the question of permitting the School Boards to give aid to voluntary schools—was not really a Party question in Scotland. If it became a Party question there it would only be because it was a Party question in England. He did not 185 believe that Scotch Liberals and Tories were divided on that question. Therefore he hoped they might promise the Secretary for Scotland that the Bill, when it went into Committee, would be discussed even on those doubtful points in a perfectly calm and dispassionate manner. He trusted, however, that the Secretary for Scotland would not use his English majority to carry points against what was obviously the feeling of the Scottish Members. If such a Bill as this, recognising popular control and a specially ad hoc authority, had been proposed for England, it would have been passed without much controversy. If he might sum up the different ways in which educational problems were treated in England and Scotland, he would say that in England there was passion without progress; in Scotland dumbness without discord, or rather "dryness without discord." He preferred the dryness of Scotland to the passion of England.
§ MR. MAXWELL (Dumfriesshire)
said little had been stated in favour of the Amendment, but it appeared to him that it raised by far the most important question in connection with the Bill, namely, what the district was to be for educational purposes. What considerations should they keep in view in deciding what the district was to be? They should consider not only the area, but population. In the Middle Ward of Lanarkshire, for example, where there was a population of 320,000, the district area might work very well. On the other hand there were districts which were sparsely populated and where the same arrangement would not be applicable. In his own constituency there was a district with a population of only a little over 6,000. In that case very little would be done for secondary education under the proposal now made. His own view was that the best area to take as a basis for this purpose was the county. Out of the thirty-three counties in Scotland there were twenty-three with a population under 100,000, and in some of these the population was so scattered that it would be impossible for the purpose of secondary education to take the county area. He instanced the conditions in respect of population in the county of Kincardine and in the 186 Stewartry of Kirkcudbright as illustrating the difficulties with which they had to deal in this matter. This question was considered the other day by the County Councils Association, and although a unanimous finding was not arrived at, the finding indicated that the district area was not regarded as satisfactory. There were twenty-one counties represented, and eleven voted in favour of a School Board for the county with power to divide, and ten for a School Board for the district with power to unite. He thought it was pretty clear that county opinion was in favour of the larger area. There was, however, a great deal to be said in favour of having large areas divided rather than smaller ones united, because when small bodies were set up it was rather difficult to bring them together. He wished to look at the question from a practical point of view. In the debate very slight reference had been made to the work done by the county committees to systematise secondary and technical education in Scotland.
§ And, it being half-past Seven of the clock, the debate stood adjourned till this Evening's Sitting.