§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £5,652,548, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on March 31st 1906, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Board of Education, and of the various Establishments connected therewith, including sundry Grants in Aid."
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE BOARD OF EDUCATION (Sir WILLIAM ANSON, Oxford University)
I believe it is usual that the representative of the Department should make some statement indicating the policy of the Department throughout the past year. This may be the more necessary, seeing that the Education Act of 1902 has been now working all over the country for some time past, and that the Board of Education is brought into relations with the local authorities, great and small, throughout the country for various educational purposes. One prominent feature of the Act of 1902 was that it made it for the first time possible to correlate or coordinate all branches of education in the hands of the great local authorities, each covering a large area and each dealing with education in its various forms. It is true that the counties in most cases are dotted about with what are called autonomous area—boroughs and urban districts of a certain size responsible for elementary education—but they have powers of rating themselves towards secondary education for a small [amount, and the county has further powers of rating them to a larger amount, rendering it necessary that they should work together for the purposes of education other than elementary. I am glad to say that the counties have cordially cooperated with the boroughs and local districts wherever they have been brought into contact.
If this co-ordination is to be practical in local areas it must also be the keynote of the policy of the Board of Education, which has in so many ways to work with the local authorities, to offer advice and assistance, and to exercise such influence as we can upon their action by means of the dispensation of Parliamentary grants. We have worked with the local authorities on these lines. Two years ago I described to the House how the staff of the Board had been reconstituted to meet the new requirements of the Education Act. But it is essential, if the Board is to work with local authorities, that it should be well informed as to what the local authorities are doing, what are the principles Oil which they are acting, and what is the condition of the various schools throughout the country. To that end we have to some extent this year reorganised 1187 the inspectorate of the Board so as to inform as on all the various subjects on which we need information. We have been anxious not to break our inspectorate into special compartments unconnected and incapable of working with one another; but at the same time it was necessary that we should have an inspectorate developed on special lines for special purposes, and it is quite impossible that the same men or women should pronounce a satisfactory opinion on the condition of a technical institute, an old grammar school, a pupil-teachers centre, and the infants'department of a council school; and we have during the past year, without asking for a fresh money grant from the Exchequer, increased the varieties of our inspectors in what I hope will be a useful manner. We have extended the inspectorate for secondary schools. A year ago we had a chief inspectorate of three; now we have eighteen inspectors who will assist in informing us as to the condition of the secondary schools throughout the country, a matter needing constant and careful supervision by the Board. We have also an inspector specially for rural education, whose business it is to assist the rural authorities in providing in their rural schools such a course of study as will interest the children in country life; and, what is most important of all, we have now a staff of women inspectors, with a chief inspector at their head, who will, I hope, be of great use in informing us as to the special needs of the infants' and girls' departments of our elementary schools. I do not say that it is a completed work; it is merely the beginning of a larger specialisation of the inspectorate on these lines. The work of our elementary inspectors has been to some extent simplified. I hope that implification may continue, and that, as we work in closer harmony with the local authorities we may be able to diminish the number of our elementary inspectorate, and in that way to increase the variety of the inspectorate on the lines I have described. This is the beginning of a work which I hope will continue to make progress. These are our great sources of information, together with the Consultative Committee and the Office of Special Inquiry which
1188 are now brought into closer relations. But I hope that the Board of Education will be well equipped for furnishing the local authorities with all the guidance and help on the great principles of education in its various aspects on which the local authorities can be expected to work.
I propose now to touch, first of all, on those branches of education that deal with the conclusion of school life—I mean the evening schools and the technical institutes. There has been during the past year no great increase in the number of these schools or classes, but there has been a very satisfactory development in the thoroughness and efficiency of their work. I think perhaps one reason why the classes have not increased in number is that we have impressed on the local authorities, through whom we mostly work in this branch of our Department, and on other persons responsible fur these institutions, that it is useless for young men or young women to embark on advanced technological study unless they have the rudiments of knowledge necessary to enable them to profit by these studies. We therefore ask for a preliminary test of fitness before the student is allowed to enter on this course. We have organised preliminary classes which prepare imperfectly equipped boys and girls for the proper use and the full advantage of the higher technological classes; but, as is not unnatural, young people who think that they are well capable of going further than their teachers think it advisable are somewhat reluctant to undergo this preliminary test and to attend these preliminary classes; and that may to some extent account for the small increase in the numbers of the classes during the past year.
I think also that local authorities, now that they have the whole sphere of education under their control, realise the range of their work, and the inter-connection of its various parts. They make technological work a part of a general scheme of education within their area. The courses of study are required to be longer; they are made more complete; and, above all things, they are more closely connected with the industries of the area. In fact, we make it a condition 1189 of the grant that there should be a full consideration of local requirements and local industries. In order to bring this about we must work closely with the local education authorities and with the employers of labour. As to the local authorities, all I can say is that we place our inspectors at their disposal, and we press on our inspectors the duty of urging upon the local authorities the importance of associating with themselves the employers of labour in this work. We impress it on them as a duty of paramount importance; and, as to the employers, we are collecting information as to the various ways in which they can promote the attendance of those who serve under them at these classes and institutions. We have some information already and we hope to collect more. The employer may make time for the employee to attend. He may even require him to attend the class. He may pay the fee for his attendance. He may offer prizes. There are various ways, in fact, and many of them are already in practice, by which great employers of labour may promote the education of those who serve under them by means of these technical classes. The Association of Technical Institutions is collecting full information on this point, and we are given to understand that when it is collected it will be placed at our disposal. We hope that our Office of Special Inquiries will be able to utilise the information and will put it in an available form for circulation among local authorities and employers of labour. I hope that in this way we are making these institutions of real use in raising the standard of knowledge and capacity among those who begin early practical work in large industries, and that this side of our work, although it has not advanced greatly in the past year, will advance more rapidly when its benefits are more fully understood. I think they are already largely understood by local authorities and are beginning to be more and more valued by employers of labour.
Another thing I may say as to evening classes and technical institutes is that we are now able to make a grant for physical training for the first time. We hope that this will be of real use to those students who have not many opportunities in the 1190 twenty-four hours of getting the exercise necessary to the proper development of the human frame; and we look for increasingly useful results from this new grant which we are now able to offer.
§ MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)
Will that apply to classes not held in technical school buildings but in private buildings.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
That is so. I now pass to another part of our work, which also comes at the end of school life—the training of teachers. The phrase "training college" has to some extent become a misnomer, because its name would suggest that it is a place for the training of a person just about to enter the teaching profession; whereas it has become very largely a place for the education of those who were imperfectly educated as children and who intend to enter the teaching profession. The definition of a training college hitherto has been—An institution for educating persons about to become teachers and for giving instruction in the principles and practice of teaching.That must necessarily be a large part of the duty of training colleges for some time; because, until we have still further advanced the training of the pupil-teacher—that is to say, the training of the intending teacher in its earlier stages—we must supplement his imperfect education at the training college. But we have endeavoured to indicate what is our policy in the matter by a slight change in phrase, and a training college, in the regulations for this year, is defined as—An institution for giving instruction to persons intending to become teachers in the principles and practice of teaching and for supplementing their education as far as may be necessary.If we can improve the education of the intending teacher, both after leaving; school and during his sojourn at the pupil-teacher centre, we shall lighten the burden of the training colleges and remove that extraordinarily miscellaneous quality of attainment on the part of the students who come to them for training and teaching.
The Committee will see how difficult is the task of the training college if I describe the different kinds of 1191 student who go there. There is first, the students who come for one year, and they are persons who have taken a University degree or are otherwise fully educated, who wish to enter the teaching profession, and who come to the training college simply to learn the practice of teaching. Or they may be certificated teachers, well educated, who have not been through the training college, and who come to the college, not so much to learn the practice of teaching as the history and theory of teaching; and to avail themselves of the leisure which the college gives them for the further pursuit of their more academic studies. There is another type of student, who may be called the normal type. He comes for two years, having passed the preliminary examination for a certificate. He is the student who needs the most care and special attention. He is very often over-ambitious to spend the greater part of his two years, not so much in training and in the studies which are directly concerned with the profession, as in the effort to obtain a degree; and I will mention the various precautions which we have been bound to take to prevent this student from expending his time on efforts which are beyond his capacity. Then we come to another class of students who are of two sorts. There is the student of considerable promise who conies to a day-training college connected with a University or University college, deliberately and with the full consent of the authorities over him, to study for a degree while carrying on his ordinary training work. There are also students coming originally for two years, who show exceptional merit and promise and who are allowed a third year to enable them to finish working for a degree; or—what we have arranged for the first time this year, and what will be of considerable value—when they have left the college and been for some time in the teaching profession, who are allowed to come back and have another year of training and study, which is devoted either to the pursuit of more advanced studies, or to going abroad to improve their knowledge of foreign languages. When the Committee consider these various types of student, they will see that the training college is subject to considerable difficulties in adapting its 1192 teaching to all the demands of the young men and women who come up with these various degrees of acquirement and with these various aims and objects.
Last year, in asking for this vote, I dwelt on the disadvantage which it is to so many of these students that they should expend so much time and energy in the pursuit of a degree. I think the House imagined that I disparaged the capacity of students, wished to damp their proper ambition, and was generally disposed to thwart meritorious effort. Nothing was further from my purpose. One is very anxious that the student should get all the benefit he can get from the more advanced work of the training college; but what we have to bear in mind is this—that hitherto the student has come up very imperfectly educated; that he at once comes into a different world of study; that he is not very well aware of his own limitations; that he perhaps over-estimates his own powers; and that he does not realise that the work for a degree, which is necessarily of a somewhat special character, presupposes a wide and solid foundation of knowledge which very often he does not possess. Now we require that, if a two years student is to work for a degree at the training college, he should at least have passed a matriculation examination before he is allowed to work for the degree. We mean two years hence to make that qualification more severe than it is at present. We shall ask for something more than the mere evidence of passing the matriculation to show that the two years student is qualified to work for a degree, and we claim to inquire into the process of the student during his life at the training college and stop it if we think he is wasting his time.
§ Sir WILLIAM ANSON
Any matriculation examination. I shall say one word as to the provision for training colleges. For the first time now the Government makes a grant, not merely for the maintenance of students at training colleges, but for the provision of training colleges themselves. I think it 1193 can hardly be said that the State has neglected the existence of training colleges, because I can assure the Committee that the Government grant, when added to the fee paid by the student, covers the cost of maintenance, but it does not cover the cost of the provision of the training colleges, and there is now a Government grant made of 25 per cent, on the educational part of the college. There is a natural disinclination on the part of the local education authorities to build training colleges, a very natural disinclination, because when they build their college and educate their teacher there they have no assurance that he will not pass into an adjoining, or even a distant, county and give the benefit to some other area of the training which he has received at the expense of the area in which he was educated. Of course that difficulty might be simplified if all local authorities built training colleges of their own, but unfortunately these proposals for the universal building of training colleges are something like the proposals for universal disarmament; the question is who shall begin; and until the local authorities have settled that matter by universal I consent among themselves, I am afraid we shall have to rely very largely on voluntary efforts for the building of residential training colleges and endeavour to develop on the best lines we can the system of day training colleges, which, I think, are doing good work in various parts of the country. But we must guard against what I may call the inferior provision of training colleges. We have had a suggestion from local authorities that they should connect day training colleges with technical institutes, but we have had to point out that a technical institute, valuable as it is on its own lines, does not give that general education which we think ought to form, at any rate, a considerable part at present of the work of the training colleges.
§ MR. WILLIAM JONES (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)
The hon. Baronet has dealt mainly with provisions for elementary teachers in training colleges; would he say what has been done or is likely to be done in the training of secondary teachers?
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
I am afraid we have no prospect of a Government grant for secondary colleges, and I am afraid I am not in a position to say that much has been done in the past year in that direction. The policy, then, of our dealings with training colleges is to dwell as much on the training as to endeavour to improve the education which precedes entrance to the training college, so that if possible, though I am afraid it is a remote possibility, one year of the training college may suffice. If we can attain that ideal, the output of every training college would be immensely increased, and the expenditure of the local education authorities would be correspondingly reduced.
The chief material for the training college is the pupil-teacher, and as regards the pupil-teacher we follow the policy which I indicated two years ago. We would ask that the intending pupil-teacher should have at least two years of general education before going to a pupil-teacher centre. If he cannot go to a secondary school, he should go to a preparatory class, and while at the pupil teacher centre he should work half time only, and during the remainder of that time his education should be continued on liberal lines. We have to meet the convenience of the local education authorities as to the distribution of that half time of the pupil-teacher—that is to say, the local authorities have asked that there should be two terms study and then three terms half-time teaching and then another term of study, so that the teaching may be distributed over three terms. That is a matter of convenience for the staffing of the schools, and in that we are very anxious to meet the wishes of the local authorities. We are further giving a longer term of engagement to the pupil-teacher in rural areas, so that from fifteen to eighteen he may be engaged to work half time. Under the old system a boy or a girl spent several years in teaching during the greater part of every day, with such education as he or she could pick up from the head teacher before or after school hours, or as could be acquired independently. Now we ask for two years training, either in a secondary school or a preparatory class, 1195 and for two years half time at a pupil-teachers' centre, and in that way we hope that the education will be continued for at least four years before the student goes to the training college, and that then the pupil will be far better able than before to take advantage of the training offered.
I do not mean to say that we have solved the very difficult problem of the training of teachers. It is possible that, as the student was kept too closely to practical work in early life before, we have taken him too completely away from the schools now. Time alone can show whether the lines on which we are working are right. On the one hand it may be said that the long term of service of the old-fashioned pupil-teacher gave him a sort of instinctive facility in dealing with a class which the pupil-teacher under the new system will never secure; on the other hand, it may be said that he lost much in the way of education, and that this facility in dealing with a class has promoted that mechanical proficiency and excessive attention to discipline which, I think, is a feature of our English educational system. Though the local authorities have been reluctant to build training colleges, they have been active in the foundation of pupil-teacher centres. They have willingly connected them with secondary schools, and, in fact, we have had to call the attention of the local authorities to this point, that, although it is very desirable that the pupil-teacher should enjoy the larger area and the freer life and education of a secondary school, you really must distinguish the pupil-teacher centre where secondary education is given as not providing the same advantages as the secondary school which is connected, closely it may be, with that centre.
This brings me now to the subject of our secondary schools. Two years ago I lamented to the Committee that what we did for secondary schools gave such a predominant influence to scientific teaching that we had heard from our inspectors—I am bound to say that I satisfied myself by visiting secondary schools—that the children were injured in their general education, and that they were imperfectly equipped for understanding and 1196 using the science taught, because they were so turned aside from languages and the topics of general education that their teaching was faulty and unsatisfactory. We have made very considerable changes in that direction. What was called the "A" grant was the large grant which turned the attention of the schools to science. There was also the "B" grant, a much smaller amount for which much less science was required. We now have one grant for a four years course, rising year by year for general education. Last year I was able to say that we should increase that grant at the end of two years where the teaching became specialised in the direction of science. Now we can, as it were, bifurcate the teaching at the end of two ears, and give a larger grant either to education more fully scientific with more advanced science, or to a course of study in which languages are the predominant element.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
No, they have science certainly. Our object has been to provide a general education in which science plays a proper part, and at a certain stage the student may specialise in the direction of advanced science or in the direction of languages. In no case is science neglected or thrust aside; it plays its part in the general education. I have only one or two other things to say beyond what I have laid down as to the general policy of the Board in regard to the secondary schools. We used to give a certain sum to meet sums contributed by local authorities for scholarships. We have not very much money to spend on secondary education, and we have come to the conclusion that it would be better to throw all our energies into the improvement of the schools by the enlargement of the grant, and then to leave local authorities to do what I think local authorities are much better able to do than we are, to select the boys and girls who are to have the scholarships and to provide them. We have, therefore, withdrawn the grant for scholarships and have given it to the schools, and I believe we are making 1197 better use of the money than before Another point is that we have constantly pressed upon the local authorities that they should give to every secondary school some body of persons specially interested in the conduct of education in the district—what is called a governing body—and I think the local authorities are coming to see that without losing financial control or the ultimate authority which they posses? over schools which are their own creation, it is useful to the schools and it strengthens the position of the headmasters if there is a body of persons whose business it is to look after the affairs and interests of the schools and to whom the headmaster may refer directly in regard to matters of school policy when he thinks it desirable. We have also been taken somewhat to task on the subject of fees. On that matter all we ask is that there should be an assurance of financial stability in the school if it is to receive the Government grant. If we can be assured that the school can be satisfactorily run without fees we ask no more, but as a rule I am bound to say that it is better that a fee should be paid. I have seldom found any difficulty, even in a poor area, in the payment of a fee, and I should think the schools in which no fees are paid are comparatively few, and I do not think anyone suffers by the imposition of such a fee as makes the parent and the child appreciate the value of the education given and ensures the financial stability of the school.
Before leaving this topic and going into the more burning subject of elementary education I should like to deal with a statement, which I have seen not infrequently, that the Act of 1902 has done nothing for higher education, that local authorities are doing nothing, and that the Act has not stimulated interest or in any way promoted the advancement of education to a higher level. I take the centres of secondary schools. In 1902 there were 193 pupil teachers' classes or centres in counties and ninety-nine in boroughs. In 1905 there are 320 centres in counties, and 113 in boroughs, and the increase in number does not fully indicate the effect of the change: These are fully equipped centres for all purposes of education of the pupil- 1198 teacher. The old central classes were not perfectly equipped. They were the best that could be got, but they were not prepared or conducted with the adequacy of the pupil-teachers' centres of today. As regards the number of pupil-teachers attending the centres, taking the counties, there were entered in 1903, between January and July, 5,271 pupil-teachers. In January-August, 1904, there were 8,100 entries, and in the county boroughs there was an increase of rather more than 400. As regards secondary schools in receipt of Government grants and under local authorities, they have gone up between 1900 and 1905 from 212 to 599, and the Government grant earned has increased by £103,000. When I add to this that many local authorities have made a most careful survey of their whole area, and have mapped out schemes for the needs of schools in the different parts of the area, I think you may say that the Act of 1902 has stimulated the interest and the efficiency of local work in education to a very satisfactory degree.
Now I come to elementary education, and to refer to the Code. I would call attention to one or two points in the Elementary Code which I think hon. Members may deem worthy of remark. There is a provision in the Code which excludes teachers from being managers of schools. I should like to say a word about that. I believe the general opinion is that the teacher of an elementary school should not be the manager of another elementary school any more than the master of a secondary school should be on the governing body of another secondary school. I believe that as a general proposition it is a sound one, and the policy which it involves seems good. But it is the case that there are some education committees, on which teachers have a statutory right to serve if chosen, which consider it proper and necessary that all their members should act as managers of schools, and it is practically a condition of membership of the committee that any person on it should be willing to act as manager of one or more schools. If teachers were disqualified altogether from acting as managers they would, although statutorily qualified, be practically disqualified from serving on the 1199 education committees. That, I am sorry to say, came to the notice of the Board after the Code was out. It certainly was not my intention, and I do not think the intention of anyone who had anything to do with the preparing of the Code, that where management was an incident to work on an education committee, the teachers should be prevented from taking the part allotted on the education committee. I can only say now that I will take care—and the Department will take care—that provision will be made to meet that in the Code of next year, and in the meantime care will be taken that no teacher will be excluded from a place on an education committee by insistence on that Article of the Code.
There is another point in our Code which I think most important. It is that part which deals with higher elementary schools. The Minute which created the higher elementary schools in 1900 has become almost a dead letter, partly, perhaps, owing to the larger creation of secondary schools, but mainly, I think, owing to the severe scientific requirements and the necessity for elaborate scientific appliances which were imposed on higher elementary schools. The fact is there are only thirty higher elementary schools, and the number has only increased by five in the last three years. And yet there is a need for schools of this sort. If no intermediate type of schools between the elementary and the secondary is created, I very much fear it will lead to the lowering of the standard of the secondary schools, which ought to be essentially distinct from the elementary schools. There are many boys and girls, particularly boys, who cannot afford the four years course at the secondary schools but who do want something beyond the elementary school which will last on to the end of their school years, and what we propose in our new scheme of higher elementary schools is to drop the severe scientific requirements, and that enables us to lower the grant and so to multiply the schools. If we could not do that I fear we should have some difficulty in taking the line we have done. The object of the higher elementary schools will be to de- 1200 velop some part of the teaching of the elementary schools beyond what is possible in the elementary schools themselves. We require that elementary mathematics and English should certainly be taught in the higher elementary schools, and we also provide that some practical instruction should be given connected with the industries or conditions of the locality, which will give to the boys and girls some feeling that their education has, as it ought to have, some bearing on practical life. I think, if we can combine these two things for boys and girls from the ages of twelve to fifteen—a fuller development of the work of the elementary schools or some part of it with a more close connection between their education and practical life—we shall enable a number of boys and girls to carry on their education willingly and profitably in a way in which they have not been able to do before.
The only other matter connected with the Code to which I should like to call the attention of the Committee is the fact that we have called special attention to the teaching of the laws of health, and we have circulated a syllabus on the laws of health for which I am indebted to two hon. Members, namely—the hon. Member for the University of London and the hon. Member for the Rye Division—to whom I should like to express my acknowledgements, as I cannot help thinking that the syllabus which has been worked out on the lines they have given is one of the most practical and useful of the sort which has yet been issued by our Department or any other authority in charge of these matters.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
It certainly does, but I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me that many of the courses of teaching and lecturing on alcohol suffer from the somewhat exaggerated tone in which their denunciations of alcohol are couched, and from the criticism to which they were exposed on scientific grounds. We have taken care that alcohol and its use are dealt with, and I hope that a proper warning is 1201 given to children that it is bad for them, that they ought not to touch it, and that they can do very well without it, but we have not accompanied our remarks on alcohol either with those scientific dissertations or moral denunciations which I think have somewhat tinctured previous documents of that kind.
On the subject of elementary education there is one very general complaint, and that is the expense to the local authorities. I cannot offer a cure. I will suggest some sort of prevention, and in certain cases I can offer a very mild palliative. I will not charge the local authorities with extravagance. Perhaps it might sometimes be questioned whether it is always necessary to have the very best of everything, and whether appliances might not be made to last a little longer. But, on the other hand, I hope those authorities will not charge the Board with pressing them on to expenditure which is beyond their means. Two things I can say on behalf of the Board. Our new building rules have been carefully redrafted to distinguish what is essential from what might be described as counsels of perfection. There are certain things necessary for the health and comfort of children, and we have made it quite clear that those are necessary, but a great many other things which were so stated as to leave local authorities to consider them essential, we have now put down as things desirable, but susceptible of modification to meet the financial conditions of the area. Then we have distinctly counselled our inspectors that, under the pressure which now lies upon local authorities, and the heavy burden which education is causing them as the Education Act is being brought into work, they should not urge expenses which are not necessary for the health, comfort, or education of the children. That has been the line we have taken ever since the Act came into working, but it must be borne in mind that the remarks of an inspector and even his reports are sometimes misunderstood. The remarks made by an inspector are not necessarily embodied in his report, nor is the report of an inspector the same thing as an order of the Board. If a local authority have good reason to 1202 think that the report of an inspector is unreasonable they have only to come to the Board and state their case, and I think they may rely on a fair hearing.
But there is one word I should like to say to the local authority, and that is that they are running serious risk in some areas I know of over-centralisation. I have some fear that education committees will not let anything slip out of their hands under, I think, a wholly unfounded apprehension that if they do they will lose the control they ought to exercise. If they will not delegate any of their functions, if they will endeavour to do all the work themselves, what will happen? The work will become mechanical, and when once it does it leads to expense. I know of cases in which salaries have been raised automatically—very properly in some cases, but in individual cases absurdly. That is to say, the local authority has determined that the salaries of persons holding certain positions in schools shall be uniformly raised, and they have never inquired what were the existing salaries or what the qualifications of the person whose salary was raised. I have known cases where persons in infant schools with practically no qualification in teaching, and with no expectation of any rise of salary, have suddenly found their salaries doubled merely because the order had gone forth that everything was to be automatically raised to a certain point. Then, if they will no; delegate to bodies of sub-committees, or bodies of managers, they lose the control over small items of expense. If everything is done from the centre by correspondence small savings will not take place, and small unnecessary outlays will take place, or else there will be a great mass of correspondence with tie central authority which is gratifying only to the officials who are there for the purpose of writing letters, and who somewhat enjoy a series of formal letters. And not only is there loss from want of close supervision, and from automatic rises of emolument without consideration of particular cases, but the whole cost of administration becomes very large. I believe I am not exaggerating when I say I have heard of a local authority the cost of whose 1203 administration was between £20,000 and £30,000 a year; and when I heard of it I wished I could have that money to raise the grant for secondary schools, especially when one thinks that some of that money went on clerical work, a great part of which was simply irritating. I must say I wish the local authorities would call to mind their powers as to creating subcommittees, and would urge such subcommittees to keep in constant touch with the managers of the school, giving a comparatively free hand to people who have no desire to run them into unnecessary expense, and whose interest in these matters is of importance. I feel that many local authorities are almost at the parting of the ways, at which they will either promote the education of an area, and create an interest throughout the area among many persons in education, or else will concentrate all power, not in the hands of the education committee, but in the hands of the organising secretary, who, owing to the weariness of the education committee for the mass of formal administrative business, will acquire all the power which the education committee thought ill advisedly to retain.
I would urge upon those local authorities the immense importance of sustaining personal interest in every department of our education, among members of the education committee, employers of labour, visitors and managers of schools. No grant from the Exchequer, and no rate aid for feeding the children, can do what the manager would do who went to the homes of the children and would teach the parents how to live, who would stimulate and organise voluntary effort, and would try to keep the children well nurtured both before school age and during school age. What is also urgently wanted is persons who will watch over the children when they leave school, take care that opportunities are not lost, and see that a boy or girl does not go into some employment where there is a small immediate payment but ultimate loss of the opportunity to avail I themselves of the special capacities acquired at school. A very little time, trouble, and money would turn a boy from an office boy into an apprentice—the office boy being cast on the world 1204 before he is twenty, the apprentice moving on to higher regions of skilled labour. It will make all the differences to the future of our children if managers are encouraged to watch over the children, not only while they are at school, but at the critical moment of their life when leaving school. I would earnestly press all local authorities to curb the mechanical ingenuity of their organising secretary, and to do all they canto enlist the interest of, and give work to, all the voluntary agencies that are prepared to take an interest in the management of the school.
There is another aspect of this question, there are what are called necessitous areas, to which, so far as I can judge, there are only two ways of giving substantial relief. The first is the readjustment of the rating burden, or a redistribution of the rateable area, and that is a subject for legislation, probably of a difficult, but to my mind, of a somewhat urgent character. Or else we need a substantial addition to the aid grant from the Exchequer where a penny in the pound produces less than a certain sum per child in the area. I frankly say I will not ask for money, nominally for education, but really for the redress of the inequalities of our rating system, in order to do what an amendment of the rating law ought to do. That being so, I have to consider what are the remaining resources. There are a great many reasons why children under the age of five should be excluded from schools; their work is of small educational value, their attendance is accompanied very often by considerable risk to health. In tolerably well-to-do families they are almost always better at home, and in very poor families they ought to be provided for by a creche or public nursery, but not by an elementary school. I hoped by this time to have been able to circulate some very interesting reports of women inspectors who were specially asked to report upon the condition of infant schools in various parts of the country, and to inform the Board what educational value attached to them. These reports are very strong and decided, and from what we have seen of them we I have no hesitation in leaving it open to 1205 local authorities to exclude children under five years.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
Yes, all of them. If you withdraw all grants for children under five we should save £850,000 in round numbers. What would be the result?Some areas would gain by the simple exclusion of the children under five; where the cost of the maintenance of the children exceeded the Parliamentary grant they would gain not merely in maintenance, but as time went on in the provision of schools. On the other hand, a very large number of areas would lose because, where schools in rural areas are small, and there may be only one teacher, they would save nothing in provision or maintenance while they would lose the grant. Of course we might withdraw the g ant altogether and use the money for necessitous areas. But I could not be a party to what is called robbing Peter in order to pay Paul, to taking money from rural districts and an appreciable number of urban districts in order to assist particular areas. We have therefore decided upon a plan by which some of the areas will gain considerably and no area will lose. At present there is an annual grant of 17s. 3d. for all children up to an age between seven and eight, and 22s. for older scholars besides the fee grant and aid grant. We shall withdraw all but the aid grant and fee grant from the children under five, but there will be a uniform grant of 24s. for every child over five. If any area thinks it is to their advantage to exclude children under five, they can do so. On the other hand, if they do not think it is to their advantage, they can retain children under five and obtain the aid grant and fee grant. I do not pretend that this scheme will set the difficulty at rest. But I know of no other way without taking money from someone, or going begging to the Exchequer.
I have now told my story on the general education question; I fear at some length. But I do not think it is a story of which I or any one connected with the Department need be ashamed. In the course of the last two years and 1206 a-half we have brought the Education Act of 1902 into operation. During that time we have been in constant co-operation with the local authorities. With most of them we have worked on the most cordial terms, and I think that, even in cases where there have been differences, no local authority can complain of want of courtesy or consideration on the part of the Department. We have reconstituted our staff in order to meet the new conditions of education. We have done our best to promote interest in education throughout every area and among all classes of the community. I am quite aware that that work is only at the beginning and is necessarily incomplete; and I have no doubt that in many respects it is open to criticism. But I think I can say generally that we have laid down our work on sound lines and in such a way that it is capable of development in many directions, corresponding with the changes in our national life and the needs of our industries and commerce.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
said he thought the statement of the hon. Baronet was a very disappointing one to those who expected great things of the Act of 1902. They had been told a story of not very much being accomplished. He had told them that the Education Act had cost a great deal of money, in fact the whole of his speech was a sort of belated repetition of the criticisms which were passed upon the Act when it was discussed in the House of Commons. When the Bill was before Parliament it was pointed out that its administration would turn out to be very expensive and that the results achieved would not be at all adequate to the cost. That was practically the admission of the Secretary to the Board of Education in his speech. They told him at the time that he would land the administration of education into the hands of officials, and that local initiative would be destroyed. What an admission the hon. Baronet had made upon this point. He had admitted that practically the whole thing from top to bottom was in the hands of the officials. That was exactly what was predicted. In opposing the Act they pleaded that the Government should give some sort of 1207 interest to the localities and that was what the hon. Baronet was contending now. He asked the managers to take more interest in the schools, and complained that they were appointed by a central authority. Why did the hon. Baronet not listen to their entreaties to give the local authorities the power to elect the managers? The speech to which they had just listened from the representative of the Government was a very earnest criticism of the Act upon the lines laid down by the opponents of the Act two years ago.
The hon. Baronet said that they had worked very harmoniously with the local authorities. He was afraid this notion of harmony had been taken from the Cabinet and the Party opposite, and judged by that standard, they might say that the local authorities were working harmoniously. In the past the local authorities in Wales had worked hard for education. They had built over 100 secondary schools in ten years and they had organised a first-rate system of secondary education. They had worked hard in the primary schools; and those were just the authorities with whom the Board of Education was in direct conflict at the present moment. He intended to move a reduction in this Vote. Here was an Act of Parliament which was regarded in a very hostile manner by the vast majority of the population in many parts of this country and it was passed without their consent, and without their being consulted. Consequently it had created a great deal of friction. The hon. Baronet knew that the Act would have to be modified in the direction in which those who were hostile required that it should be modified. He did not think anybody would challenge that statement. Seeing that there was only a short interval to be bridged over, they had decided to provoke quarrels with the local authorities which they knew would not be in existence in a year or two because they would come to an end whenever the present Government came to an end. [Cries of "No, no!"] What was the position? For about a year after the Act was passed the Government realised that that was the position of affairs, and on the whole they were prepared to act accordingly. They 1208 realised that it was most important to have an irritating controversy over an Act which did not represent a final settlement. But a change had come o'er the spirit of the dream. No Government before had ever wantonly provoked the people in this most irritating fashion. What was the first thing they did? The hon. Baronet had said that they had reconstituted the staff of the Board of Education to meet the changed circumstances. They had done that specially with regard to Wales, for they had handed over the administration of the Act in Wales to a clerk of the Education Department, who was not man of any particular authority, or, judging by his correspondence, of any special intelligence. The name of Mr. Morant, the Permanent Secretary of the Department, did not appear at all. No doubt Mr. Morant was wise enough to see that the action of the Government in regard to Wales was a piece of folly, and did not wish to mix himself up with it.
What had happened? The first business of those appointed by the Department was to supply the Government with statements to mislead the House of Commons as to what had been done. They had a debate upon the administration of the Act in. Wales in the month of May last, and he wished to call attention to three statements which were made about Carnarvonshire and Glamorganshire. In the debate in May last on the administration of the Act in Merionethshire, the hon. Baronet dragged in as a counter-move statements with regard to other counties. They naturally thought that a Minister would not make those statements without having investigated them, and yet inquiry showed that all those statements were without the slightest foundation. The complaint on that occasion was that in Merionethshire insanitary schools were being planted upon the rates. The managers had been allowed nearly two years to put these schools in order, but had not complied with the requirements of the local education authority, and the Board of Education had upheld them in their refusal. The hon. Baronet retorted that there were local education authorities who were guilty of keeping insanitary schools going, and he instanced the 1209 case of Pontypridd. Last year he said the Board had a long discussion with the local education authority and the managers of a voluntary school there. The local education authority insisted on certain alterations. The Board of Education admitted their necessity, but recognised the great difficulty of carrying them out on the existing site. Then the school was transferred to the local education authority, and the first thing that body did was to write to the Board of Education requesting that the school be allowed to remain in statu for two years. Would it be believed that there was not a word of truth in the last statement? It was true that the local education authority requested the managers to make certain alterations on sanitary grounds, and when it was found that the -Board of Education supported that demand the managers abandoned the school. The local education authority took it over, and the first thing they did was to spend a considerable sum of money in carrying out the improvements which they had required of the managers Think of that fact being withheld from the House.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
I deny that the local authority proposed anything. When they asked that the school should remain in statu the Board of Education insisted on certain requirements being carried out, and after a time the local authority carried them out.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said the hon. Baronet did not even now see that he was misleading the House in a most material particular. The inference he wished the House to draw was that, having asked the board of managers to improve the sanitary condition of the school, the local authority on themselves becoming possessed of the school had, without spending a penny on it, asked the Board of Education to allow it to remain as it was for two years. But the hon. Baronet also withheld the fact that the local education authority gave an undertaking to build a new school in the district within eighteen months.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
That is really not the case. The hon. Member 1210 has attributed to me a false statement and a suppression of fact of which I should not dream of being guilty. The local education authority insisted on requirements. We entirely agreed. Then the school was transferred, and the first thing the local authority did was to ask us to allow the premises to remain in that condition for two years, until they could make other provision. They said nothing about making alterations. We insisted on their making these changes, and they were made. The material fact was that the local authority insisted on the managers making the changes. But when they came into possession themselves they asked the Board to allow the premises to remain as they were for two-years. [MINISTERIAL cheers.]
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
The hon. Baronet states one thing now which he withheld then. He says that he knew that the local authority was making certain provision for improving the sanitary condition of the school.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
I was not aware of anything, except the demand of the local authority to allow the school to remain in statu for two years.
§ MR. DUKE (Plymouth)
Is the hon. Member in order in assuming that the statement of the hon. Bayonet is untrue, and that the hon. Baronet made it deliberately knowing that it Was untrue?
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
Yes, I am, deliberately. The Secretary to the Board of Education has made a series of false statements, and I will not have them.
The hon. Member is out of order in making an imputation of deliberate untruth against the Secretary to the Board of Education.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
I never said he had made a deliberate false statement. I said he made a series of false statements, and I still say so.
The difference is this. If the hon. Member states that the Minister made statements that were inaccurate—
That is a matter of proof. If he says that the hon. Gentleman deliberately stated that which he knew to be untrue, that is out of order.
§ MR. LLOYD -GEORGE
I have simply to repeat what I said before, that the hon. Gentleman made a series of statements which were false. The word "deliberately" was imported by the hon. Member for Plymouth. When that hon. Member very improperly intervened I was asking the hon. Baronet two definite Questions. Did he know that this money had been expended, or was in course of being expended, upon improving the premises; and did he know at the time that the local education authority had undertaken to build a new school, and that they only decided to use the existing school as temporary premises?
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
I answer at -once, though I do not think the Questions are material. The point was that the local authority said to the managers, "The school must be improved, and at once." They became possessed of the premises by transfer and they immediately wrote and asked the Board of Education to allow them to remain in statufor two years. I am perfectly well aware that during these two years they were going to build a new school. As to the alterations, all I knew was that the local authority which had decided these matters to be urgent asked that they should be allowed to remain as they were for two years, and the Board of Education insisted that changes should be made.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
I was not aware that they were. The Board said that they must be made, and the demand was so urgent that I thought they must be made, but I did not know.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
And did not even inquire. The hon. Gentleman seemed to think that even now it was immaterial whether this school was to be used for temporary purposes or permanently. That was his view of telling the whole story to the House.
Turning to the case of Denbighshire, he said that the charge brought by the hon. Baronet was that while the council had surveyed the voluntary schools before the appointed day, they had not yet appointed anyone to survey the council schools. There was not a word of truth in that charge. The Denbighshire County Council appointed a surveyor to examine both classes of schools, and the work was completed in the case of both before the appointed day. The same resolution covered both the provided and non-provided schools, and they were examined at the same time. He recollected the cheers with which that statement was received in the House; hon. Members opposite felt that it was a triumphant Answer. But there was not a syllable of truth in the statement. The hon. Baronet, when his attention was called to the matter, refused to withdraw the statement in the House of Commons, but after about three weeks he wrote a letter to the Denbighshire County Council saying that that was not exactly what he meant—that what he really intended to say was that after the appointed day they did not hold the balance evenly between the two sets of schools, that he was sorry the phraseology was not quite correct, but that in substance and in fact the statement was perfectly true. That was the hon. Baronet's notion of the conduct of a gentleman when a false charge had been brought against the education authority! The statement ought to have been withdrawn and apologised for in the House of Commons, where. it was made.
The same thing happened with regard to Carnarvonshire. Two or three schools were instanced where the repairs had not 1213 been up to the standard. The statement was absolutely correct as far as it went, but the hon. Baronet did not state the whole of the facts. Although there were two or three schools where the requirements had not been complied with within a month of their receipt from Whitehall, the local education authority had actually spent on repairs £6,400 out of revenue and had applied for loans to the amount of £25,000 for the purposes of enlarging and improving the school accommodation. That was £31,000 for a small county, representing between £2 and £3 per head per child in the schools. The hon. Baronet was aware of these circumstances, and his omission to mention them was a withdrawal of facts which had the result, he did not say intentionally, of misleading the House.
Another ground of complaint was that the hon. Baronet, while pressing the local education authorities to administer the law, was himself breaking the Act of 1902 and his own regulations. In Merionethshire about two years ago notices were served on the managers to repair their schools. Last year the hon. and learned Member opposite contradicted the statement that notices had been served. He now had the notices in his possession; they were most elaborate, giving the full report of the surveyor, and setting forth the requirements in respect of which the schools were to be repaired.
§ MR. DUKE
thought that if reference were made to Hansard it would be seen that he merely asked whether notices had been served. He had been told that notices had not been served, and therefore he asked the hon. Member, who was likely to know and was usually well-informed about these matters, whether he knew.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said he recollected distinctly the hon. and learned Member saying afterwards that that was not his information. There were very few appeals to the Board of Education. Some of the schools were so bad that a short time ago two had to be closed. But although the managers had not obeyed the law that they should comply with the reasonable requirements of the local education authority, the 1214 hon. Baronet, in defiance of his own law, compelled the local education authority to maintain these schools. When the local authority asked about the repairs they were told that their first business was to maintain, and that if they did not the Board would not press the managers to comply with the law. What an extraordinary proposition These schools were insanitary, badly lit, and unhealthy, and the position taken up by the hon. Baronet was that if the teachers were damaged by the withholding of a part of their salaries the Board would retaliate by forcing the children into these insanitary schools. What a position for a great constitutional authority to take up. And how had the Board acted as a Court of Appeal? They sent down one of their own clerks with an inspector to visit these schools; no notice was given to the local education authority; even their surveyor was not informed; but this clerk went round and said, "Oh, you need not take any particular notice of these things; you do so and so, and you will be all right." The next time the local education authority pressed for the carrying, out of their requirements they were told, "An inspector was here the other day with a clerk, who told us that if we did certain things we need take no further notice of you." Was that what a Court of Appeal was supposed to do? What would the hon. and learned Member opposite think of a Court of Appeal which, before the case came on, sent its clerk to one of the litigants without notice to the other side, saying, "If you do certain things we will back you up when the appeal comes on, and judgment will go in your favour?" When the appeal came on the Board backed up their clerk, and upheld the opinion which had been delivered beforehand ex parte. That was a fraud on decent administration. And this was the Department which was telling the county councils in Wales how to administer the law, and threatening them with all sorts of pains and penalties if they did not carry it out.
But this was not all. The county of Glamorgan afforded another remarkable case. Two years ago the local education authority sent their surveyor to inspect all 1215 the schools. A full copy of his report was sent to the managers of the non-provided schools, with a request that they would point out any respects in which they complained of it. In May, 1904, the Board of Education gave a decision considerably modifying the requirements of the local education authority, and in some respects falling below the minimum of their own regulations. The local authority, however, accepted it. Then the Board of Education extended the time within which the managers were to carry out the requirements. That time had expired, but a considerable number of managers had not yet complied with the requirements even as modified by the Board of Education. Being advised that it was contrary to the Act of 1902 to maintain a school of which the managers declined to comply with the reasonable requirements of the local education authority, the county council gave notice that after July 31st, unless the requirements had been complied with, they would cease to maintain the schools. They had no other course open to them, and yet the Board of Education had stepped in and practically told them that if they ceased to maintain the schools they would be put in default. That was not administering the Act of Parliament. It simply meant that all the provisions with regard to structural requirements and repairs were thrown into the measure to secure its passage through the House of Commons, that they were never intended to be carried out, and that the only part of the Act which was meant to be enforced was that providing for the maintenance of these schools. Then in a correspondence the Department had tried to mislead the public by introducing all sorts of matters which had no basis in fact. They said that their decision in May, 1904, was not a hard and fast decision intended to be carried out, but simply a general indication of the lines upon which they thought the managers ought to proceed. Then they began to say that the requirements were unreasonable, that the maintenance of schools could not be refused because a path was not properly gravelled, or because a door opened in one direction instead of another. There were no such cases in the whole of the county, and the writer of the letter knew it perfectly well; 1216 they were introduced simply to prejudice the decision of the local education authority, who were face to face with the dilemma that if they carried out Section 7 of the Act of 1902 they would be put into default under the Act of 1904.
Part of the complaint of the Board of Education against the county councils was that they withheld payments which were overdue. Would it be believed that the Board of Education had adopted exactly the same course with regard to the education authorities? In the case of Merionethshire they had not paid the aid grants yet, although the education authority should have received by this time a substantial installment. Upon what principles did the Secretary to the Board of Education found his complaint when he himself in January last withheld payments from the education authorities.?
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
I have withheld no payments except in due course of law under the Defaulting Authorities Act.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said the regulation of March 9th, 1904, laid down that the aid grant should be paid in two portions, one installment early in the year at 4s. per head of the average attendance and the balance early in the second half of the financial year. Neither of those two installments had been paid.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
said that aid grants were paid in advance for the average attendance in schools maintained during the year. The Treasury allowed them to pay that money in advance, but the Board of Education would not be acting fairly if they paid the money where they had reason to believe that the local authority was not going to maintain the schools. The moment the Board of Education got an assurance that the schools would be maintained they would send the money.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said the Board of Education under the Treasury Minute was supposed to pay this money in two installments. He wished to know if the hon. Baronet could point out a single school in Merionethshire which had not been maintained by the local authority, 1217 where the salaries had not been paid, and where all the requirements had not been carried out.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
Why do they not say that they are going to do that and then they will get the grant.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said that was an extraordinary proposition. Those schools were carrying out the law, and the Board refused to pay what was due unless "they gave an assurance that they were going to act as a citizen ought to act.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
Has the hon. Member himself not said from time to time that they ought not to carry out this law?
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
Did the hon. Baronet say that he was not going to pay any money to any county which at any time said it would not carry out the law? If so, why did he pay any money at all to Merionethshire or East Ham. The West Riding of Yorkshire also said they would not carry out the Act, and therefore why should he insist in taking this exceptional course in the case of Merionethshire. He supposed it was because it was a small county, and it was just the size of thing the Government liked to hit. Did the hon. Baronet say that he would pay no money unless the local education authority gave assurances which he had no right to ask from them.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
All money earned will be paid, but we are not obliged to pay, and we ought not to pay, money in advance to authorities which have from time to time refused to carry out the law.
§ MR. LLOYD - GEORGE
said that Merionethshire was carrying out the law, and the moment it did so payments were withheld. This Act was quite bad enough, but when it was administered hi this spirit it was absolutely intolerable. The Board of Education were bringing pressure to bear upon local authorities to improve their schools. If there were insanitary schools he trusted the authorities would be compelled to put them in order. They did not complain, however, -of pressure of this kind, and the only 1218 stipulation they made was that where the Board of Education made requisitions upon the local authorities they should be made upon the merits of the case and not as a punishment. If better ventilation was required it was all right to demand it, but such a demand should not be made purely to punish them because they were making requisitions upon somebody else. If the hon. Baronet only made such requisitions he would get no complaints; in fact, the more requisitions he made of that kind the more expensive and obnoxious would the system become. In Merionethshire the education authority gave the schools two years to comply with their requisitions, but a great many had not yet been complied with. The hon. Baronet made requisitions at the beginning of this year on Merionethshire and he had withheld the grants from schools there because his requisitions had not been complied with. If he considered two years was sufficient in this case why did he extend only three months indulgence to a council school?
In the case of Merionethshire the hon. Baronet complained that the ventilators were not of the right kind. He might say that those ventilators had been put in with the sanction of the Board of Education three or four years ago, but they had been condemned by the representative of the Board of Education. Later on representations were made as to whether those ventilators would be allowed to be used in other schools; and the Board of Education took two months to consider the matter. A month later they withheld the grants because those ventilators had not been put into the schools, although they had taken two months to consider whether they were the right sort or not. During the last eighteen months £13,000 had been expended upon improving schools in Merionethshire. If that sum were applied to Surrey it would be equivalent to £150,000 spent in improvements and in the enlargement of school accommodation. That sum was equal to £3 per head per child in the council schools, and therefore the charges made by the hon. Baronet could not be brought against Merionethshire. But if those schools were in an insanitary condition whose 1219 fault was it? It was entirely the fault of the Board of Education, because the present Government had been administering the Education Acts for the last ten years and they had allowed those schools to get in their present condition.
Take the case of Denbighshire as an illustration of the way in which the law had been administered by the present Government. In 1894 a school was condemned because of inadequate accommodation, and the Board of Education prepared plans for increasing it. The Conservative Government came in in 1895, and said they could not allow the school board to improve the school. The inspector reported year after year, condemning the school on account of the inadequate accommodation. The school board sent the plans back to the Board of Education, which returned them, and at last they gave the real reason, which was that there was a Church school in the district. They wanted to force the children to attend that school. That was in Denbighshire. That school was reported on by the inspector. They never knew it was reported on until this Act came into operation. When they got hold of the report they found that it had been condemned for years by the inspector, and that the Board of Education did nothing. They declined to allow the school hoard to extend the accommodation of their own school, and they allowed the other school to go on. That was the sort of thing that had gone on. It had gone on for two years under the hon. and learned Baronet. It was only after ten years that the position had become impossible. The children had actually to be taken into the open air and instructed there because there was no room for them in the school. If this was the way the law was administered by the Board of Education, how could they expect the local education authorities in Wales to carry it out? It was their Act of Parliament, and they were bound to administer it fairly and impartially The Board of Education were not there representing the interests of the non-provided schools. They were there to carry out the Act of Parliament, and they ought to do so impartially. The Welsh local education authorities were carrying out the Act against their 1220 will. They represented people who bated it and who would take the first opportunity to alter it. The Board of Education having passed this Act should administer it impartially.
What was the position in Wales at the present time? There was an Act of Parliament which was obnoxious to the vast majority of the people and which deprived them of all interest in the schools Non-conformists formed four-fifths of the population, and most of the spiritual, moral, and social work of the villages was done by them, and yet they were to have only two out of four managers, which practically disfranchised them, and were not allowed to have a single teacher in the schools because they were disqualified by the trust deeds. The bulk of the people who paid the rates out of which the schools were maintained were Nonconformists, and, moreover, these people were those that contributed most largely to the wealth of the district by their labour. It was exceedingly hard, therefore, that these people should not be allowed to take any interest in their schools. Having regard to the peculiar position of Wales, one would have thought that the Government would have shown some consideration for the county councils. An Act of Parliament was imposed upon the people of Wales which was an insult to their faith, and the local education authorities were expected to administer it. Welsh Members were bound to bring these facts before the House, and when the time came they would appeal to the country upon this matter.
§ SIR JOHN GORST
said he had listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Carnarvon with very great regret and sorrow. There were not many opportunities in that House for discussing education, and it was a pity that the discussion that afternoon should be interrupted by a speech of such sectarian bitterness. The special charges which the hon. Member had brought against the Board of Education would no doubt be replied to in due time by the Secretary of the Department. He would only say that it appeared to him that a great many of the accusations appeared to reply to themselves. He did not 1221 know that the hon. Baronet would have an arduous task in replying to the parts of the speech which did not reply to themselves. It was perfectly right and constitutional that the hon. Member should attack the Secretary to the Board of Education, but it was quite unusual, and he thought quite un-Parliamentary, to mention by name the permanent Civil servants of the Crown who were not responsible to the House for their acts. [An Hon. MEMBER: But they are] Their duty was to obey their official chiefs, the President of the Board of Education and the Secretary to the Board of Education. They were not present in that House to defend themselves, and the hon. Baronet was responsible to the House for everything they did and for every letter they sent to a local authority.
He totally disagreed with the hon. Member for Carnarvon when he said that the effect of the Education Act of 1902 was to diminish local interest in education. The whole of his speech showed what an extraordinary amount of interest there was. In the autumn of last year he had the privilege of taking part in a Welsh education meeting at Shrewsbury. It was attended by men of every creed and every political opinion. The whole question of education was discussed in the most businesslike manner, and there was not a word of religious bitterness brought into the case at all. It was a practical meeting which he dared say had produced a great deal of good to education in Wales. He looked upon speeches such as that to which they had just listened as mere transient phenomena which would very soon pass away. The great principle of the Act of 1902 which made the municipalities of this country responsible for education would never be repealed and would never be altered. No doubt changes would be made in the working of the Act in various particulars, but he believed that the religious difficulty which had arisen in Wales and in a few counties in England would be a transient matter and would not affect the lasting good which the Act would effect.
He had given notice of a Motion to reduce the Education Vote by £500,000, 1222 but he did not intend to move it. He did want to call attention to the enormous and preventable waste of money in connection with the education of a large number of children who were not fit to receive the instruction which was provided. The theory of the Board of Education seemed to be that when they had provided schools, teachers, and apparatus their business was to teach any children who came, that they had no responsibility for the condition in which these children were, and that they had no obligation even to see that they were in a condition to receive instruction. It seemed to him that it would be a wise and reasonable thing for the Board of Education to take some trouble to see what was the condition of a child when it first came to school. In Germany every child when it first came to school was medically examined. The child's condition was recorded—its weight, its chest measurement; and this medical examination was repeated every year, so that in a Prussian school they had the history of a child's physical progress at school from the time of entering until the day it left. He could not help thinking that there were a good many education authorities in this country who held a medical examination of this kind, more or less. He had been very much surprised when the hon. Baronet told the House that a Committee had been directed to inquire into the various systems practised by the different local authorities in that regard, and he would be very much interested to learn what that Committee had found out. He would be very much interested to know how much the local authorities had done to satisfy themselves as to the physical condition of the children.
He would remind the Committee that in this matter the Board of Education had the most absolute power; in that they could put into the Code the conditions on which the Parliamentary grant was to be paid. Why should not the Board of Education make it a condition of receiving a grant that proper and reasonable attention should be given by the local authorities to the fact whether, when the children came to school, they were in a condition to 1223 receive instruction? That was a reasonable condition, because otherwise they spent large sums of money, which the Committee voted, on children who were physically unfit to receive instruction. The Committee should recollect the immense responsibility which rested on the State, on the Board of Education, and on the local authorities on behalf of these children, who were under their daily observation from the time they were five years old till they were fourteen. Medical testimony was unanimous that during that period, if proper care was taken of the children, all the mischief that had been done by malnutrition in early infancy could be retrieved; that if it could be only assured that from five to fourteen years of age the physical condition of the children was adequately cared for, almost all that mischief could be cured. The local education authority and the local sanitary authority had absolute power to ensure that the children were properly treated and cared for during school time; and he was bound to say that the Board of Education had shown an indifference in this matter and that many local authorities had entirely neglected their duty. At Charlottenburg the education authority picked out of the schools all the feeble children during the summer months, put them into an electric tram and carried them into the forest, where there was a special forest school, at which these children were kept during the whole day in the open air. They had play, and meals, and everything which could conduce to the restoration of their physical health. And then they were brought back at night to their own homes. The effect of that was that these children were restored to their families completely cured and well both as regarded their bodies and minds. That could not be done here, because none of the buildings in the forests would answer to the requirements of the Board of Education.
He wished to call attention to the enormous waste of money caused by epidemics. He was told that a large number of schools were closed on account of epidemics, such as measles and smallpox; and while they were so closed, the salaries of the teachers and 1224 the rent of the schools went on, while no teaching of any kind was given. There was no provision made in the schools to detect the beginnings of such an, epidemic. He thought that instructions should be given to the teachers at the beginning of such an epidemic, to report to the medical officer. The cost of epidemics was one of the greatest sources of expense to the ratepayers, and if there were medical inspection that could be prevented, at the outbreak, by the isolation of the children who were observed by the medical officer to be suffering from the first stages of the disease.
Another point was that a great number of children were totally unfit to receive instruction because they were so overworked out of school hours. In 1899 he told the House of Commons that a great part of the money voted was wasted on that account. Ultimately a joint Home Office and Education Office Committee was appointed to inquire into the matter, and that Committee made a most excellent Report and recommended legislation. But would the Committee believe it, in this Metropolis a local inquiry was going on on the same subject promoted by the Home Office? No by-laws had been made upon the subject by the Home Office or the Education Office, though the London County Council Education Committee had recently made by-laws on the subject.
Another point was that a proper medical examination of the children in school would lead to the stamping out of that dread disease—tuberculosis. All medical authorities were agreed that that was a disease that ought not and need not exist in a civilised community; but the seed-bed of tuberculosis lay in the bodies of these unhappy, ill-nourished children. A proper examination in the schools of children from three to five years of age would discover the symptoms, and the disease could be stamped out. He did not think that the hon. Baronet had laid great stress on the observance of hygienic-laws in the schools. The hon. Baronet had referred to the encouragement given in the syllabus to hygienic education; but if they were to make hygiene effective, it must not be taught in the same way as any other special subject 1225 The present object seemed to be to prepare boys and girls to answer questions in examination papers, and there it ended. But what was wanted was to go into the pupils houses. He wanted to teach young mothers, and to establish a system of visiting such as was established in most German cities and under which competent people went and instructed young mothers in their own homes how to bring up their children.
He had listened with great interest to the statement of the hon. Baronet that local authorities were no longer to be compelled to provide schools for children between three and five years of age. He thought that was a step in the right direction. But he did not think they would be able to get the public generally to give up the right of having their children cared for by the local authorities. And what they would have to do would be, not to abolish infant schools, but to turn them into nurseries where children were not to be taught, but where they were to be amused, cared for, and looked after. They did not want very highly trained teachers who had studied all the 'ologies and taken a very high degree at training colleges for that purpose, but they wanted a motherly person who was fond of children, and who was a good nurse. He was sorry to say that the Board of Education did not really yet realise what a child was. It was true they had some women inspectors, and he believed they had told the Board a good deal about children they did not know before. Those women inspectors, however, were a very small number compared with the schools, and he hoped they were going to be increased, because he always thought women knew a great deal more about little children than men. He did not think that the Board of Education realised that a child of five years old was only a baby. We were quite singular in beginning education at so early an age. In no country but ours did they begin until the child was six and in some cases seven. If they were going to have little children of five years of age at school, they must treat them as babies; they could not treat them in the same way as older children. Yet he found in the Code of this year—a very important and advanced Code, which gave a great promise 1226 of further progress on the part of the Board of Education—the following clause—The necessary recreation interval in the case of infants under five years of age must be fifteen minutes in duration and may be extended to half an hour.That was very good, and, if he were a teacher, he should certainly make it half an hour. Then they went on to say that in the case of scholars over five years of age the interval must be ten minutes. Therefore, a child of five years of age was treated just like an older child. It had to be in school the whole time the school was going except for ten minutes. He had no hesitation in saying that anybody who knew and watched and studied children would never put such a provision into the Code. Unfortunately, it was in, in being in it must be observed, because the Controller and Auditor-General would disallow grants made for children if it was shown that they had had half an hour's recreation. He hoped inspectors and the authorities would overlook any transgression of that rule. Ten minutes out of a school morning was not enough recreation for a child of five years of age. No artist made his model sit so long as that. An artist's model had ten minutes interval every hour. Surely a child who was kept in one place ought to have not more than twenty-five minutes instruction at a time. In the school at Charlottenburg to which he had referred they had no more than twenty-five minutes instruction at a time. They might have altogether two hours in the course of the day, but not more than twenty-five minutes at one time. He was quite sure, if the Board of Education would consult their inspectors before the next Code was drawn up, they would find this recreation clause would undergo very considerable alteration.
He thought it would be an excellent thing if provision were made, in all the schools, for the children being washed. It was a small matter, but it was a very important matter, and it was very easily done. It could be done in a very cheap and simple manner. There were some schools in which children were washed, but there were a great many in which they 1227 were not washed, and he believed, if such a provision were made by the Board of Education, it would cost very little money, and would not only conduce to the health of the children whilst they were at school, but would give them habits of cleanliness which would be of enormous advantage to their health in after life. Nothing was more disagreeable to the world at large than dirty people, and he was quite sure if this regulation were introduced into the elementary schools we should have a race very much cleaner and, therefore, better and healthier. He hoped he had introduced a totally different atmosphere into the debate than was introduced by the Member for Carnarvon, and he hoped in the rest of their discussion they would remember they were all Christians, and that there were a great number of things which would conduce to the health and welfare of the enormous mass of children whom the Board of Education had to instruct, and upon which they could agree.
§ MR. BRYCE
said he always listened with interest to the speeches of the hon. Member for Cambridge University, for he always spoke with knowledge. But the hon. Member had that day complained of the hon. Member for Carnarvon for his arraignment of the Board of Education, and had implied that it would be better on the one occasion which they had in that House to discuss educational questions if they confined themselves to matters upon which they could agree and offered practical suggestions for improving the educational machinery of the country. They all agreed with that. He was Sure all of them would wish to bring all the knowledge and experience that either as legislators or as private citizens they had acquired as regarded the education of the country to the assistance of the Board to make the system complete. But he would ask his right hon. friend who began the sectarian controversy and who introduced the element of antagonism into Wales?
There were one or two topics on which the Parliamentary Secretary had touched to which he desired to refer. One was raised by the right hon. Gentleman just now. What was being done with regard 1228 to the Committee which they were promised at the beginning of the session? Nothing had been said by the Secretary to the Board of Education upon that subject. When was the Committee going to report, and would the right hon. Gentleman see his way to give some effect to its recommendations? It seemed to him that what the right hon. Baronet had said about training colleges was far from satisfactory. There was no part of our educational system more unsatisfactory. In 1837 the intention was that training colleges should be established by the Government. That plan was unfortunately abandoned, and sectarian institutions under a quasi-private management were allowed to grow up and were subsidised by the Government. That had turned out a most unsatisfactory method, whether they looked at it from the religious or the educational side. These men ought to be brought up with other young men who were going to be engaged in other occupations. He believed we gave far too much money to sectarian colleges, and he was of opinion that if the Government had undertaken from the first to establish these colleges it would have been more economical. He thought the right way now would be, as he was glad to see the Parliamentary Secretary was doing, to make them as much as possible day institutions. In 1902 a proposal was made to enable local authorities to establish training colleges, and he gathered from what the Parliamentary Secretary had said that that proposal had been carried out to a very small extent. How could they expect that local authorities would spend large sums of money in the establishment of such colleges? That was always a hopeless dream on the part of the Government, and it was pointed out at the time that the Government could not expect local authorities to spend money in that way. But that was only one aspect of the financial side of the question which did not receive the attention it should have done.
Our educational expenditure was growing at an enormous rate. The Parliamentary grant this year exceeded £17,000,000, of which £11,000,000 were spent on elementary education in England and Wales. In addition to that, 1229 the sum which, this year was to be expended from the rates was roughly estimated at £8,000,000. So that there was £19,000,000 of money, partly Treasury and partly local, spent on elementary education in England and Wales. That was a most stupendous sum, which in his opinion was too large. He would not say it was too large if he was sure that it was all well spent because he believed if it were well spent, it might conduce to the benefit of the country. But he did not think there was anyone interested in education who did believe it was well spent, who did not believe that large economies could be effected, and who did not believe that we were not getting value for our money. There was only one way to see that this money was well spent, and that was the way pointed out by Mr. Robert Lowe many years ago, that there should be some effort made to see what the work was that the grant did. It was too large a subject to go into the details of at the present time, and he merely called attention to it because he thought the time was approaching when they ought to have some real inquiry into the system under which grants were given. A great many grants were given and they ought to be simplified and given on a different system; they ought to be more proportionate to the performance of the schools, and the inspector ought to have some other alternative to that which he at present had, which was, as he believed, that an inspector might either reduce the grant by a shilling a head or else recommend that the school should lose its grant altogether.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
said the Board of Education took a much larger power to reduce the grant. It might fine the school or rather the local authority in respect of an unsatisfactory school.
§ MR. BRYCE
said he was far from being sure that it was a good thing that the inspector should be an autocrat in a matter of this kind, because unless they found men who were really angels those men were apt to make mistakes in their 1230 inspections. A full investigation was required on this matter. Whether that investigation should be by Parliamentary Committee or Royal Commission or by some other body he was not prepared to say, but the matter certainly required more consideration than it had had, and the question should soon be approached in a serious spirit.
One great cause of expense had been referred to by his hon. friend in that part of his speech in which he dwelt on the difficulty arising in the administration of schools from over centralisation. If everything was done from the centre they could not have those small economies which were so effective. Too much power would be given to the permanent officials, especially to the organising secretary, who would believe he had everything to do, and who would oust all the managers in order to do it. His hon. friend had waxed quite eloquent in pointing out how much the managers might do for a child, and how much the interest the local managers took in the welfare of particular children in a school might do for the children of that school; how much a child might be helped on in life, and how great a stimulus might be given to its progress. But those remarks had not been heard for the first time; they were first heard in 1902, in the shape of counsel given to the Government as to what the inevitable result would be if they persisted in introducing their system of areas far too large and so removing the local authority from close contact with the people. Everything that had been said by his hon. friend that day had been said before, by way of prophecy, and it had come true. In 1902 it was pointed out that if the county was made the local education authority it could not know in many cases what was going on in the county; and that the local education authority would be deprived of local knowledge. Now they heard that their time was taken up in dealing with trivial questions which ought to be left to the managers. But that must be so. If the managers were given such small powers they could not take the initiative, and if they were continually obliged to write letters on these trivial matters to the organising secretary they 1231 would not get men of the same organising spirit, because they would not get the chance to do what they wished to do. That was one of the real morals of the Act of 1902, and one of the reforms which would have to be introduced when they again dealt with education would be to give the local authority a more local character and so do away with one of the fatal faults of this unfortunate Act.
Another point in which the Act had fulfilled their predictions was that comparatively little had been done for secondary education. They had been told that the result of the Act would be that elementary and secondary education would be in the same hands, that they would work well together, and that much would be done in the way of secondary and technical instruction. Comparatively little had been done. Far less had been done than the country needed. One of the most pressing needs of the country was secondary as well as technical instruction. That had proceeded with very slow steps, and the Board of Education was not able to do much to stimulate it because the rates were rising and elementary education was absolutely necessary. And while local authorities felt that they were obliged to spend so much on elementary education they were a little chary of dipping into the pockets of the ratepayers for secondary or technical instruction.
What else had they learned from this Act? A phrase used by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister always haunted them The right hon. Gentleman had said so many times that this was a great educational reform that at last he had come to believe it so far as a Gentleman filled with philosophic doubt could believe anything. They were told that in future years this educational reform would take a high place in the achievements of the Government, but as a fact it had placed upon the local authorities a large amount of work the expense of which they were not able to bear. No one who knew London and other large cities would say that the work was better done now than by the old school Boards. As regarded the controversial side, the ink of the Act was hardly dry before the highest prelates of the Church were inviting Nonconformists to meet them 1232 in conference to consider how the Act might be amended, so little was finality secured, and thus, ever since, instead of discussing the question from the point of view of the improvement of educational methods, they had been obliged to continue the discussion of sectarian grievances.
Much had been heard about the difficulties in Wales, and the Committee would expect the hon. Baronet to try to prove that the Board had sailed with an even keel and had not made any requirements upon the educational authorities to carry out the law so far as their duties went without at the same time allowing them to see that the non-provided schools also carried out their obligations. In addition to the troubles in Wales there had been thousands of passive resisters in England, and the movement showed no signs of diminution. Great authorities in England, such as the county council in Yorkshire, were associating themselves with the action of Wales, and declaring that they would go to the extreme limit allowed by the law to restrict the mischievous results of the Act. That was the consequence of passing a law which was unwelcome to the Dissenters of England. The Government were warned as to the area they proposed to introduce, the probable loss of local interest, and the enormous additional expenditure that would be entailed, and all that had happened was the natural result of what was a rare occurrence in England, viz., the passing of a Bill against the obvious will and sentiment of the mass of the people. This was notably the case in Wales. Wales was unlike England in many respects, and in none more than in her passion for education and her willingness to spend money on educational purposes. Thus Wales was just a case in which a wise Government would have felt that it was undesirable to do anything that might check education or place the people in antagonism to the educational machinery. Common-sense men would have either passed a separate Bill for Wales or at any rate exempted Wales from the English measure, and so have saved themselves all the trouble which had now come upon the Government. He did not know that there had ever been a better example 1233 of the danger of endeavouring to use a majority against the dormant sentiment of the people.
The great deficiency in the political character of the Prime Minister was not only that he had a disregard and almost a contempt for facts in the main, but that he seemed to think that when face to face with some strong popular conviction, all that was I necessary was to pour scorn upon that conviction and proceed to treat it as though it were non-existent. What a good time the right hon. Gentleman would have had had he lived in the seventeenth century ! What a valuable counsellor he would have been for Charles I. Strafford would not have been more successful in bringing about civil war than the First Lord of the Treasury. But unhappily all these misfortunes had fallen on the innocent head of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education, who, he believed, had been the most unwilling agent in pushing through the later portions of the education scheme of the Government, and who would probably be only too glad to deal in a lenient spirit with the Welsh county councils if the Act permitted him to do so. He wished the hon. Baronet well out of the difficulties into which the Government had fallen. All would agree with the right hon. Baronet the Member for Cambridge University that these troubles were only transient and would soon pass away. Welsh Members might take comfort in the fact that they would last no longer than the present Parliament.
THE SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir EDWARD CARSON Dublin University)
And some portion of the next Parliament.
§ Mr. BRYCE
said they might last for some portion of the next Parliament, but he hoped for no long portion. There was a general agreement that the present Act could not stand, and that one of the first duties of the new Parliament would be to endeavour to bring about that accord between popular sentiment and the law which ought always to exist. No doubt there would be difficulties, but none greater, he hoped, than the 1234 common-sense of the people would overcome. In this matter they relied with some confidence on the commonsense of the English people. He believed they desired to have some kind of religious instruction, to do no injustice to anyone's convictions, and to have a share in the management of their own schools. With these simple principles before them, he did not despair of the new Parliament solving this tangled problem. Therefore, he trusted that they might look forward at no distant date to a cessation of the-troubles by which they were now assailed from the sectarian side, and to the devotion of the energies of the House to the bringing of the educational system into full and proper accord with the needs of the country.
§ MR. CRIPPS (Lancashire, Stretford)
said that in one sense every Act of Parliament dealing with great educational questions must be capable of amendment from time to time, but as regarded the main principles of the Act of 1902, he entirely differed from the view of the right hon. Gentleman opposite. He believed not only that that Act was good and right in its inception as a great educational reform, but, considering many of the novel principles and ideas which were introduced, that it had on the whole worked exceedingly well, and had entirely realised the best hopes of its strongest supporters. He entirely denied that the Act, instead of stimulating, had deadened local interest in education. No Act of recent years had done so much to arouse local interest—in some cases amounting to friction—in educational questions.
The account given by the hon. Member for Carnarvon of the friction which had arisen in Wales showed that the interest of the Welsh counties in educational questions had been rendered not less, but more, acute by the Act of 1902. With reference to the speech of the hon. Member, he would only say that if he desired to promote harmony in the working of the educational machinery he could not be congratulated on the methods he had adopted. But the speech had an entirely different object. The hon. Member had never disguised the fact that he wished to bring the Act of 1902 to an 1235 end, and his speech to-night was perfectly consistent with that attitude. It was not delivered from a desire to promote educational efficiency, but to do what he could to make the Act work as badly as possible, in order that he might obtain increased support in his attack on the educational policy of the Government. He was not blaming the hon. Member, but at all events he should not talk about any desire to promote harmony between local authorities and the Board of Education, as he must know that the speech was designed to produce the maximum amount of friction between the local and the central authorities.
As to the working of the Act, while he held that the country area was the only possible area for educational efficiency, he agreed that it was always lamentable when the managers did not take any efficient or effective interest in the schools with which they were connected. He agreed that at present local managers were not taking that local interest which under the Act one would have anticipated. He thought the reason—and he knew it was the reason in his county—was that the county council had attempted far too much to centralise its administration. It had attempted to interfere with the coal scuttle and all those minor matters which ought to be left to the managers, with the result that the managers, who probably under other conditions would be the best managers, said that they would not have their time taken up by these petty details being constantly referred to the central authority. Could that be dealt with under the Act? He said it could. He disagreed that there was anything in the Act to prevent the formation of committees. He thought committees ought to be formed in order to decentralise if necessary. If county councils took up a reasonable attitude and left these matters of minor detail and of merely local interest to the local managers, they would have the same local interest as formerly, supplemented by county stimulus, which was of great advantage, at least in agricultural districts, as regarded the pressing forward of the great interests of educational reform. So far from there being any 1236 reason why under the Act there should be a lack of local stimulus, he said that if the Act were properly administered it brought that about to a greater extent than could ever have been done under the old conditions.
Everyone in the House surely disliked sectarian animosity, and especially any political and sectarian animosity in connection with education. The difference between them—and he did not want to make any special charge against hon. Gentlemen opposite—was who promoted that sectarian animosity? Speaking on behalf of the Church of England, he said that they had never taken any steps which could properly be considered to be calculated to promote any sectarian animosity in the matter of elementary and national education. This sectarian difficulty never came to the front in local districts on educational matters; it only came to the front when it was made the substratum of political friction, which ought to be kept outside of education altogether, but which did more than any other topic to interfere with what was the real interest to all, viz., the best treatment of the children of the country. The whole history of the case showed that sectarianism in religious education had been brought forward, and deliberately brought forward, for political purposes outside the real educational question altogether.
Undoubtedly the great question as regarded education in the future was the financial aspect, and that was very largely emphasised by what the right hon. Gentleman opposite had said. He said that about £19,000,000 a year was being spent at the present time for our public elementary education, and that of that £19,000,000 about £8,000,000 came from the rates. If £8,000,000 came from the rates, it meant roughly an average rate of between 9d. and 10d., because a penny on the rate produced rather over £1,800,000. Therefore, they had got, in addition to an enormous expenditure of £11,000,000 from the National Exchequer, no less a sum from the rates than something like9½d. in the £Why was that? He considered it arose from two causes. First, as regarded a large number of educational matters, they had overlapping authority; they had power given 1237 for instance, to the inspector of the Board of Education, and they had power given to the inspector of local authority. They might have them making different and even inconsistent requirements as regarded school buildings, and, if they were not to have absolute waste—and he thought there was an enormous amount of waste in our educational organisation—they must make each party duly responsible for particular portions of the educational expenditure. Where the county authority was responsible it ought to have control; and where the Board of Education was responsible it ought to have control. While they had two bodies with overlapping authority they got no sense of responsibility whatever as regarded expenditure for educational purposes in many directions, with the fatal result that at the present time a very large proportion of our educational expenditure was, he believed, being entirely and unfortunately wasted.
It was not, however, only the way money was spent, but also the way in which money was raised; they had overlapping in the raising of money as well as overlapping in the spending of it, and what they must have sooner or later if they were not to be overwhelmed by expenditure on elementary education was the local rates supplying the local objects, and the central funds supplying those purposes under the control of the central Board. So long as they had money supplied by the central Board and controlled by the local authorities they must have waste, and, in the same way, so long as the localities had to provide expenditure in respect of matters of control by the Board of Education and in respect of which they had no local control they were certain to. have waste, and it really must be essential in some early reform of our educational expenditure to draw out carefully what ought to be provided from the National Exchequer and what ought to be provided locally. It must be separated, and what came from the National Exchequer must be supervised by the Board of Education much more effectually than now, and what was provided locally must be supervised by the local authority, which would have 1238 full responsibility for that expenditure. It was a most faulty system, and especially in our educational administration at the present time, to allow the Board of Education to put any kind of expenditure upon the ratepayers, the ratepayers not being liable to the Board or responsible or in touch with the Board. They therefore had one body saying what was to be spent and another body finding the money. He said frankly that he despaired of any reform whatever until the matter was taken in hand and dealt with on principle from top to bottom. They had no guarantee in the future that the-expenditure might not be more oppressive than it had been in the past, and if they made it too oppressive they would create a reaction which would tell very heavily, perhaps for some period of time, against the whole education system of this country. Although they had speeches on general theory and general principle, if these speeches were not to have practical application they were of no use whatever.
As to training colleges, was it conceivable that they could have any proper system under present conditions? Could they have no proper solution of one of the great questions of education, namely, the proper supply of teachers? Of course it was a national matter, and nothing but a national matter, to provide an efficient body of teachers for our elementary education system trained in proper colleges by the State. Until that was done he did not think it was any good for the representative of the Board of Education in that House to come do, in and give certain figures as to the increase of the training colleges. That was not going to the root of the matter at all. The difficulty was a financial one, and in order that the people should find the money they must convince them that the burden was placed on the right shoulders. Being a national burden the rates ought not to be called upon at all How could they expect one county to provide a college when the teacher trained there might be employed in another county.
He agreed entirely with what the hon. Baronet said in regard to higher elementary schools. He wished to emphasise it because of its importance in agricultural 1239 districts where they could not have a proper system of secondary education. In the poorer rural district it was extremely important that they should provide some system to take the place of the higher elementary schools. There was only one matter which he did not quite appreciate, aid he wished an Answer on the point. Did the hon. Baronet mean that he would find himself in a position to have a greater number of these, schools by reducing them to less efficiency than they were in at the present moment. He said he would alter the character of the schools. He gathered from that that the hon. Baronet meant decreasing their efficiency.
The only suggestion of economy made by the hon. Gentleman was one in which he entirely concurred. There could not be more wasteful expenditure than the providing of an expensive school system for children who were not capable of profiting by that education owing to their very early age. He entirely concurred in the statement that children between three and five years of age ought not to go to the elementary schools at all. They were spending vast sums of money on the education of children between three and six years of age, and they were making them less efficient than if they had commenced their education at the latter age. How long were they going to allow this to go on? This was not a theoretical matter. How could anyone justify the spending of money in order to cause deterioration in the ultimate condition of the people of this country? That was what was stated on the face of the code. It was not that they did no harm, hut it was that they did a great deal of harm, and did it at a great deal of expense. That was not only wasteful but deleterious, and it ought to be brought to an end at the earliest possible moment. Parents, they knew, liked to get rid of the children at an early age, but if that was so let crèches be provided for the children so that that they could have places to play in, and that, when the educational age did arrive, they might be able to take advantage of the system which the nation provided. How long were they to talk theoretically, and yet allow a matter of this kind to be a 1240 blot on our education system? In connection with this change the hon. Baronet said there was a saving of £850,000. He should have thought that the saving would have been very much greater. He was entirely against dealing with children at a time when it did more harm than good. He understood that it was by saving on that expenditure that the hon. Baronet thought he might assist the necessitous districts. He did not believe that any substantial benefit would be given to the necessitous districts under the hon. Baronet's scheme. He believed the remedy from that source would be absolutely fallacious with regard to the poorer necessitous districts which were at present so oppressed. As to the working of the Act of 1902; he entirely differed from the views expressed on the Opposition side of the House. He believed the Act was working admirably.
§ DR. MACNAMARA (Camberwell, N.)
said he found himself in agreement with what was stated by the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down in regard to the local financial burden in connection with education. That part of the general statement of the Parliamentary Secretary which had reference to the cost of education was by far the most important part of it. The burden of education at the present time represented a very acute problem, and it was becoming much more acute. Unless they went very carefully indeed the burden was so heavy on localities that they would create a dangerous reaction against education.
What was the position before the passing of the Act of 1902, in regard to the question of local finance? There was no local rate at all in the case of eight county boroughs, in the case of about a fourth of the municipal boroughs and urban districts, and in about a third of the rural parishes. The mean rate in the places in which there were rates was 12.2d in the £1 in England, and 13.5d. in Wales. The Act had revolutionised all that. All the hitherto non-rated areas now found that they had a rate for education imposed on them for the first time. In the administrative counties the result had been to equalise very largely the local burden for education, 1241 because they brought under contribution areas which had never contributed at all in the past. They had equalised so that they had to pay 6d. or 7½d. for an education rate all over the county, whereas before they only paid in a third of the county nothing at all, and in the other two-thirds from a half-penny to 2s. 6d. In the urban areas under the Act of 1902 there had been a uniform increase in the charge for local education. That was acutely true, especially in the rapidly growing areas where there was a large industrial population and a low rateable value. In East Ham the rate immediately prior to the Act of 1902 was 17. 8d. in the £1; it was now 34d; in Edmonton it was 21. 7d. before the Act, now it was 36d.; in Halifax it was, before the Act, 18. 8d., now it was 25d.; in Norwich it was, before the Act, 17. 5d., now it was 25d.+; in Walthamstow it was, before the Act, 22. 3d., now it was 29d.; in West Ham it was, before the Act, 28. 74d. and now it was 35d. The direct effect on these industrial areas was enormously to increase the rate. "What was wanted was a thoroughly scientific inquiry into the incidence of the local burden on account of education. They wanted to ascertain the proper proportion which should be borne by the Imperial Exchequer and by the local ratepayers. What was wanted was that a largely increased proportion of the whole amount of the burden should be borne by the Imperial Exchequer and less by the local authority. They wanted to bear in mind one vital factor in this scientific inquiry as to the cost of the burden of education, and that was as to the relationship between the proceeds from the rateable value and the number of the working class children to be educated.
Let him give a few examples of the wide diversity which existed at the present time. In the urban district of Beckenham the Id. in the £1 produced per child in average attendance 8s., while in Edmonton it produced only 1s. 6d. per child, and yet the system of giving Exchequer relief in these two areas was absolutely identical. Now, examine the education rate; at Beckenham it amounted to 8½d., and in Edmonton it 1242 was 3s. Take East Ham, Id. in the £1 brought in Is. 10d. per child, and in Ealing 7s. 9d. per child. The direct result was that in East Ham the education rate was 2s. 10d. in the £1, and in Ealing 7d. He would take two instances from the provinces. At Bournemouth 1d. in the £1 produced 7s. per child and the rate amounted to 4¾d.; while at Gateshead 1d. in the £1 produced 1s. 7d. per child and the rate was Is. 9d. It was on account of that great diversity that he asked that there should be a scientific, financial inquiry as to the incidence of the burden of the education rate, and the true proportion which ought to be borne by the Imperial Exchequer and the local authority.
It was true that by way of immediate relief the children under five were to be excluded from the schools if the local authority desired it. He entirely disagreed with that suggestion, although he admitted there was a lot to be said on both sides, especially in relation to the slums of our great cities, unless due provision was made for municipal cr`ches. He contemplated with quite other than equanimity the putting out of these infants into the gutter or the alternative of their being burned to death in their own wretched homes. What he wanted was infant schools for the care of these poor children. If money was to be saved by this process, it should, of course, go to the necessitous areas. That was a difficult problem, no doubt, but it ought to be faced. Take the case of East Ham, which had been brought before the House already, when the Government did give, in some form or other, a pledge to mitigate the enormous amount of the education rate in that borough. There they had got 2,000 children under five years of age; 3,000 between five and seven; and 16,000 over seven years of age. What were they going to do in that case? East Ham would lose 17s. on the 2,000, which was equal to £1,700. But it cost more to educate these infants than the government grant realised. So if they were all turned out the generous estimate of the net gain on that loss, so to speak, would be £400. Then they gained on the children between five and seven years 1243 of age at 7s. per child a total amounting to £1,000, and they gained on the l6,000 children over seven years of age £1,600. That was at the very outside. The total gain then would be about £3,000.
£3,000 a year in East Ham was really 1½d. in the £. The East Ham rate at the present time was 34d., so that the relief the Government was offering East Ham would reduce their rate from 34d. to 32½d. The right hon. Baronet called it a very mild palliative; he should call it something stronger. He wanted to hear what East Ham would say about it, and he hoped his hon. friend the Member for North West Ham, who had taken a lively interest in this, would give them his views. He thought the right hon. Baronet might have excogitated something better than this; they had £80,000 to play with, and they used it indiscriminately. Here was a sum which they were to use for the special purpose of assisting necessitous areas, and they took this little pittance and scattered it right and left everywhere. Why did they want to spend it in a 9d. agricultural area or a 4¾d. urban area when they had got areas where the rates reached 3s.? All the sum ought to be spent exclusively and entirely upon those necessitous areas. He could well understand that East Ham, West Ham, Walthamstow, and Leytonstone would be angry with the Government, especially after the pledges they had received in the matter.
There was one other matter with which he was bound to deal, and in connection with which he personally had received some little disillusionment. When the Bill of 1902 was before the House he ventured to move, on October 28th, an Amendment that it should not be lawful for any body of managers to make it a condition of appointment in the case of any teacher that the said teacher should undertake to perform or to abstain from performing any duties outside the ordinary school hours or unconnected with the ordinary work of the school. He did not desire that a teacher who consented and wished to play the organ and conduct the choir should not be at liberty to do so, but he desired that it should not be made a condition of his employment. The Committee, he 1244 thought he might fairly say, was on October 28th, 1902, entirely with him. The House agreed that his proposition was a fair one, but it was pointed out to him that it was undesirable to put it in the Bill, and he agreed that perhaps that was the right view. The Parliamentary Secretary and the Prime Minister undertook that the matter should be dealt with in the Education Code, and thereafter the following was put in the Code and was there now—The teacher should not be required to perform any duties except such as are connected: with the work of the school or to abstain outside the school hours from any occupations which do not interfere with the due performance of his duties as teacher of a public elementary school.He was profoundly disappointed and even disgusted with the serious breach of faith, as he thought, on the part of the Department and the Parliamentary Secretary in regard to the non-fulfilment of the pledge set out in the Code that the teacher should be free to take or leave those duties as seemed desirable to him. It was really a breach of faith with the House of Commons. He had called the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to a letter from the Rev. James Payton, of Hopton Wafers Church School, Cleobury Mortimer, of February, 9th, 1904. It was to a teacher applying for a post, and the following was an extract from it—Your application is being considered by the managers. In regard to music, may I ask if you know anything of the organ. The present master has played ours, and for that, and looking after the lamps, receives a small annual payment of about £4. This would be open to his successor. Of course this is a private matter and is no condition of the appointment.It was all very well to say that, but the applicant would say that, if it was essential and he could not do it, he would not get the post. He had put a Question to the Parliamentary Secretary and the following was his Answer—I have seen the contents of the letter to which the hon. Member refers; it is a letter of inquiry addressed by one of six managers to a candidate for a teacher's place, as to whether be can play the organ, and contains some information as to work done by the retiring teacher outside the duties of his post. There is nothing in the letter to suggest that the undertaking of this work was a condition of appointment—indeed, the exact contrary was stated— 1245 or that the manager who wrote the letter addressed this inquiry on behalf of his five colleagues.The Parliamentary Secretary was too simple for this world, or he would have known that that reply was a distinct encouragement to managers to put those conditions in. That reply was followed immediately by all sorts of other advertisements of a similar kind. He would read one or two examples—East Stoke School, Dorset.—Wanted Head Mistress at Christmas for Church school, one who could play the organ sometimes preferred.He would take Oxford next—Stratton, Audley, Bicester, Oxon.—Wanted the Head Teacher, or a member of his family, to undertake the duties of organist in Parish Church on separate terms.Let him take Devonshire—Wanted, Headmaster; harmonium, Church, extra. Choral service.He would go to North Riding. There there was a gentleman, Mr. Chambers, of Brompton Vicarage, Yorkshire, who wrote—I have to thank you for your application. We should give preference to any candidate both able and willing to give their help on Sunday with a small organ in church, and to teach the choir (mostly the day-school boys) hymns, etc. It is my unpleasant duty to say that we have one or two applicants who seem likely to suit us, and who are both able and willing to take the organ.He enclosed a circular and he said it was prepared for candidates for the curacy, and—Will give you an idea whether you will be able to co-operate loyally with me. If you think not, you had much better say so at once. We have no use for a bigot or a Protestant.He would take another case from Wiltshire, viz., Stapleford—If applying, please send the following particulars with your application form: Are you a communicant of the Church of England? Musical—able to play any instrument? If appointed, can you assist in the Sunday school? I hold two parishes, and the teachers in each take the Sunday school duties. The locality is healthy. Water supply good.This great Act, which he believed would put a stop to all this, had been used in such a way as practically to continue these applications, and he was a little ashamed that the Parliamentary Secretary, in view of his pledges to the House, had not put his foot down more strongly and stated that these things should not be 1246 done, and that the school should be struck off the grant list if they were done. The point he was making was that the Department had not done what it ought to have done. He thought they had agreed to pay the teachers for teaching and that if they wished to have their Sundays to themselves the Board of Education could secure that. But the Board did not seem to have done much in that direction. He had been simple enough when the Act was in Committee to trust to the hon. Baronet's promises that these things should be put in the Code, when he should have insisted on having them in the Act itself and not have trusted to the subterranean methods of the Department. He hoped the Committee would insist that the Parliamentary Secretary should assure them that he would be more firm in the future than he had been in the past in insisting on the spirit as well as the letter of the law, and that he would give the teachers the freedom to do what they pleased in their private time.
§ SIR FRANCIS POWELL (Wigan)
said he altogether agreed with the remarks made by previous speakers as to the enormous expense of elementary education. The sum expended had been arrived at, not by policy, nor by foresight, but by a series of accidents. Different changes had been made in the Code with the desire of extending and improving education, and the expenditure had been in favour not of economy but extravagance. While any sum spent on elementary education beyond the amount necessary was really mischievous, secondary education was being starved, and nothing better could be done for education than to transfer a considerable sum from elementary to secondary education. The stipends of the highly qualified gentle men who were now taking part in the instruction in secondary schools were such as to be most injurious to those institutions. These young men who had distinguished themselves at college, and taken high degrees, received a salary quite unequal to their deserts, and their prospects for the future were not such as anyone could desire.
The right hon. Member had spoken of the Act of 1902 as having broken 1247 down owing to the size of the areas. He himself could see no reason whatever why power should not have been given to sub-divide some of the large areas. The area of the West Riding of Yorkshire was no doubt enormous, and the difficulty in dealing with that vast area was increased by the fact that it was not uniform. It was broken territory, and it was interfered with by county boroughs which had powers of their own quite independent of the local authority. But a large area was not necessarily unworkable, because in the adjoining county of Lancashire they had a similar area in which there was no discord; where there was entire union and complete harmony. This arose not from the constitution of the district but from the temper and tone of the population. He concurred with what had been said by several Members who had preceded him as to undue centralisation. He believed that decentralisation was necessary, because the central authority was overburdened with a multiplicity of detail with which it was unable to deal, and, on the other hand, the managers had not that freedom of action which was absolutely necessary for the sake of the schools themselves. Managers on the spot knew much better than people at a distance what were the real needs of a school, and if they had to confine their energies to filling up forms, analysing abstracts, and producing reports, they might case to take that interest in the local school which was essential if that school was to form a valuable educational centre.
The question of the training of teachers could not remain in its present position. When the time came for dealing with the colleges, regard would have to be had to those in existence; to secularise colleges which had been erected by different religious denominations would be an act of injustice, and would inflict an injury upon the cause, not only of religious education, but of education generally. Any such attempt would lead to bit erness and controversy, and could not fail to be most prejudicial to the cause of education. One difficulty was in connection with the training in day-training colleges. In such colleges as the University of 1248 Leeds or of Manchester the student had not only to learn his business as a teacher, but also to pursue the general branches of literature and science taught at the college, thus having double duties to perform. The same difficulty had been experienced abroad. He heartily welcomed the changes in the Code this year with reference to the training of teachers. One of the greatest difficulties in connection with the subject was the wastage of teachers. Teachers were educated at vast expense, and then after a few years they frequently left the profession and took up other careers, which was hardly in accordance with the promises they had given. Another great difficulty was the uncertainty that existed as to the scene of their future activities. Yorkshire or Lancashire could hardly be expected to found magnificent and liberally-equipped institutions when they had no guarantee that the students trained therein would remain in, their respective counties. That was the fatal objection to the system of purely provincial colleges. He believed that the only method of dealing with the problem was by making the training of teachers a national charge and placing the training colleges under national management. The pupil-teacher difficulty, which was intimately connected with the training of teachers, would, he believed, tend to become even more acute in future years, as there was an increasing reluctance on the part of many young men to become pupil-teachers.
And, it being half-past Seven of the clock, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report progress; to sit again this evening.