§ [SECOND READING.]
§ Order read, for resuming adjourned debate on Question [8th May], "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Question again proposed.
§ CAPTAIN ELLICE
, continuing his speech, said when the House adjourned he was calling attention to the desirability of allowing the Scotch Members to consider this in a Committee composed of Scotch Members. He pointed out to the Lord-Advocate that if that course were followed it would greatly facilitate the passing of the Bill and save a considerable amount of time. So far as the House was concerned, such a Committee would not only ensure the Bill being passed quickly through the House but it would ensure their getting a good Bill. He himself entirely approved of the proposal to feed hungry children. In the Highlands for many years they had fed the children who had come long distances. They had not grudged the expense, but they quite recognised that in large districts it would be impossible to feed, the children without some financial assistance. With regard to the rating clauses the Bill would require a certain amount of alteration. Last year they had a Secretary for Scotland in charge of this Bill, who represented a county constituency. This year they had the Lord-Advocate who represented a burgh constituency. Of the four Scottish Members in the Government only one represented a county constituency. No doubt a fellow feeling made them wondrous kind; he, therefore, hoped that on the question of the withdrawal of the equivalent grant the Government would be more lenient than they had been in the past year. With regard to the transference of the endowments to the school boards he pointed out that the endowments were at present limited to £1,000, but that it was considered desirable that they should be allowed to transfer, if they pleased, those endowments which were over 1215 £1,000 to the school boards; that was to say, that the limit should not be any definite sum but that any of the endowed schools of Scotland should, if they chose, be allowed to transfer their endowments to the school board.
What filled him with amazement was the opposition to the proposal with regard to the provincial council for St. Andrews Burghs. The hon. Member for Leich Burghs, himself an inhabitant of the Kingdom of Fife, had opposed this council. It was very bad taste on the hon. Member's part to make such an attack on his own county. Every one understood that the Highlands were in a different situation to the rest of Scotland. The opinion of all Scottish Members on the Liberal side of the House was in favour of a separate council for Inverness, and as one who had resided longer in Invernesshire than any other Member in the House he would assuredly support the establishment of such a council. The special circumstances of that district made it necessary to have an additional council. There was a large Gaelic-speaking population and many Gaelic-speaking schools. But when it came to a question as to whether Inverness should have a provincial council or whether St. Andrews Burghs should have one, there could be no doubt that St. Andrews had more claim to such a council than Inverness possessed. St. Andrews had the oldest University in Scotland. It was established in 1411, whereas that of Edinburgh was not established till 170 years later. On the provincial councils it was proposed to have the highest educational intellect, and under those circumstances it would be most unfortunate if St. Andrews were left out. If one of these provincial councils was to go it should certainly be that for Aberdeen. Aberdeen was in an out-of-the-way part of the world. As far as the Highlands were concerned it was easier to get to St. Andrews from Perthshire Skye and the South and West of Inverness than to Aberdeen, and, so far as he could see, Aberdeen might well go to Inverness. He would cordially support the Bill and hoped the measure would be pressed forward in Committee.
§ MR. BRIGG (Yorkshire, W.R., Keighley)
said he wished very briefly to support the appeal put before the House by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Aberdeen with reference to the limitation of the areas to be brought under the control of the local authorities. That was, in his opinion, a very important matter. He was himself on the local education authority for the West Riding, and they found those large areas most unsuitable. They had 900 schools under the control of the local authority, and that authority had sub-divided the districts into a large number of divisions, each one of which was much larger than the old school board districts, but it was most difficult to carry out the work of education in those districts; in fact, almost impossible. Under the Act of 1902 the local education authority had all the needed powers but could not delegate powers to the local sub-committees to spend money on their own account, because those committees were not the rating authority. It would be very desirable if those committees had power to spend money each on its own school, but, as they had no responsibility for the collection of it they were not allowed to have the responsibility of spending it. The result was that all those local authorities were obliged to apply to headquarters for extremely trivial things. If they wanted to supply a few lead pencils or a little notepaper, they had to send to headquarters for it. As a consequence there was a considerable amount of friction, and it was under those circumstances that he desired to place before the House the undesirability of placing Scotch education in the same position. At the present moment there was a revolt against this system in the Division of Elland. One district council that had been called upon to elect members to the education authority had refused, and the education authority of Elland was stuck fast, and could not move because the district council which ought to have elected members to that education authority had not done so. A considerable amount of friction had been raised in many other places from the same cause. In olden days members of school boards gave time and thought to this matter, but as it now stood the 1217 managers were appointed by the authorities and had very little interest in their work, inasmuch as they had 1o refer everything to headquarters. The failure arose from the fact of their having those very large areas in place of the small ones they had under the school board. The only alternative that had been suggested was to arrange the area so as to make the district small. It would be quite possible to arrange them into what were formerly school board districts. The effect of the present system, so far as the West Riding was concerned, had been that they had lost their director, and he was not sure that they had not hastened the death of their chairman. The position of things at present was actual despair on the part of the committee as to how the thing could be worked. He only mentioned those matters in order to show the desirability of curtailing the areas in the Bill before the House.
§ SIR CHARLES RENSHAW
said he was bound to say the impression left upon his mind by the observations of the hon. Member for Camberwell was that the hon. Gentleman did not appreciate the difference between education in Scotland and education in England. The hon. Member had spoken of this Bill as an admirable Bill and had contrasted it with the measure passed by this House in 1902 to deal with the question of education in England. But, after all, there was a very substantial difference between the condition of affairs in Scotland and the condition of affairs in England. In Scotland they had a school board to every parish in the country. In England half the children were educated under the school board and half in schools built not by the ratepayers but from voluntary funds. It was this fact which caused the difference between the two countries—the position of affairs which obtained in Scotland as compared with that which obtained in England—in regard to the position from which they approached the question of education. In Scotland they had no very acute religious differences. He thought he was not exaggerating when he said that three-fourths or seven-eighths of the population of Scotland 1218 belonged to the Presbyterian Church. The Roman Catholics and the Episcopalians, who constituted the other fourth or eighth of the population, war in a very small minority, and, so far as the educational system of Scotland was concerned, the views of the great Presbyterian majority prevailed. They had no burning question connected with Church and Dissent, and for his part he did not think that the fears of the hon. Member for Camberwell as to the dangers of a certain part of this measure were likely to be fulfilled. Just as in 1872 they had in Scotland contrived, with a system which had obtained the general assent of the country, to avoid conflicts, so notwithstanding the powers which this Bill proposed to confer for the first time on the new school board authorities, in Scotland there would be no difficulty in exercising those powers, and, if they found it necessary or desirable, in assisting the voluntary schools, which really after all were carrying on a certain amount of educational work in Scotland very successfully and well, and did really deserve some consideration from the ratepayers.
Various questions had been raised in this discussion. First there had been the question of area. The right hon. Member for South Aberdeen criticised the selection of area; he spoke of the parish area, the district area, and the county area, and spoke of the parish area with the same affection with which all who had been interested in Scottish education for the last twenty-five years felt towards that educational institution. The connection with the parish area went back to the time of the Reformation, and there was not the slightest doubt, so far as education was concerned, that the work done under the parochial system had been admirable and effective work; there was equally little doubt, when they were considering the question of further administration, that difficulties had arisen in the demand which was now being constantly made in Scotland for technical, secondary, and higher education, and when it came to be a question of adjusting those requirements to the education of parishes, there came the difficulty which had given rise to this Bill, and which was the necessity for the Bill. 1219 On the Second Beading of the Bill of last year he had expressed the opinion, expressed by the right hon. Member for South Aberdeen that evening, as to the desirability, if it had been possible, of keeping the large old parishes for elementary education purposes and grouping the smaller parishes for the same purposes, and of administering higher, secondary, and technical education on a wider basis. He admitted that if this Bill was to be passed he did not believe it was possible to graft that system on it. They must either take this Bill and accept it as the considered view of the Department and the Government upon Scottish education, or they must reject it. If they accepted it they must bid farewell to the system of administering education on the parochial basis. They had either to accept the proposal of the Government, which was to have a district or burgh authority and to amalgamate the district and form a county Board, or they would have to take.the county as an area in the first instance, with power to break it up into districts suitable for educational purposes. That, in his opinion, was the simpler and more effective method of solving this question.
Then with regard to the question of rating. The view he took about the rating clause in last year's Bill was that he was most anxious to retain that provision of the Bill that was to retain and charge on each locality the debt which had been incurred by each educational authority. He did not take the view that it would be better to pool the debt and apportion the rate partly on the basis of population and partly on the basis of valuation. Upon the debate on the clause last year a division as between pooling the debt or not was taken and lost in the lobbies by about 233 to 43, and the matter having been decided in that way he supported the proposals to apportion half on population, and half on a valuation, which he thought least injurious to the rural parts of the country. The Bill introduced this year proposed that the debt existing in elementary schools should be charged to the parish incurring those debts, but it proposed that the debts incurred in erecting higher-class 1220 schools should be a charge, which should be apportioned on the districts. He thought there should be an addition to that. It was not only the high-class secondary schools in the proper sense of the term which were very limited in their numbers, but also the higher-grade departments which contributed to the higher education of the area outside the limits within which they were erected. He took the view that the debt of the higher - grade departments should be a charge on the district and not on the parish, and in his opinion it was desirable in the interests of education, that whatever area might be fixed for educational purposes, one uniform rate should be levied within the area. He was perfectly certain that was the only way to give to the localities a check on undue expenditure and so to prevent extravagance. He did not see any reason whatever why the rate for capital expenditure on elementary schools, whether past or future, should not be levied on the old parochial basis and subject to the old parochial system of reduction or classification. He did not see why all the other charges which came under Sub-section 2 of Clause 23—the rating clause—should not be levied on the gross valuation, so that every one within the area, whether it was county or included municipalities, or whether it was a distinct area, might know that they were paying the same rate and might be able to compare progress, either in regard to the rise and fall of the rate.
There was another portion of the Bill upon which he had a very definite view. He welcomed as warmly as anyone the recent Minute of the Department in regard to the training of teachers, and rejoiced that a Department had sufficient power to issue a Minute so wide in its scope. It set up four committees for the four different parts of Scotland to deal with the training of teachers. An hon. Member had spoken about the dearth of teachers in the country, but it was largely due, not to the fact that there were not plenty of young men and women who were willing to go into the teaching profession, but because the access to that profession had been made so difficult. That was the charge they had to make against the existing system of training 1221 teachers in Scotland. He hoped that that Minute which had been issued was to be the beginning of better things in this matter, and that the training of; teachers might be put upon a wider and a sounder basis. It would encourage; a larger number and a better class to come forward and take their places in the ranks of this noble profession, upon which the future of their country so largely depended. It was not a badly paid profession at the present moment, and he thought the inducements to enter it as compared with the inducements to enter clerical life, or even the ministry in certain parts of Scotland, were very much greater than they were in the two latter cases. But while he rejoiced in the institution of these provincial councils for the purpose of training teachers, he looked upon the proposals in the Bill with regard to the future duties devolving upon those councils with a very doubtful eye. He was all in favour of making the local education authority a strong authority; he was for trusting it and giving it the fullest powers to work out the salvation of its own district, and he looked with almost a feeling of aversion upon the proposal that, at the very outlet of the career of the new responsible authorities, provincial councils were to he instituted, which were to be consulted, to check them, and it might be to warp their action. He did hope that before they parted with this measure, whatever powers the new provincial councils were to have as regarded the training of teachers, they would not make any provision which would give them any other work to do until, by the failure of some of the school boards established under the Bill, the necessity for that course had been demonstrated.
With regard to the formation of the new education fund, he would point out that the old fund was originally created by bringing together various sums which had been devoted from time to time either for educational or quasi-educational purposes. There was this difference between the Bill of last year and the present one, that last year's measure proposed to take away from local authorities all the money given under the equivalent grant under the Act of 1892. The equivalent grant, which 1222 amounted at the time it was given to the rating authorities in Scotland to about £100,000, had now, inconsequence of increased sums connected with the collection of public taxation, risen to about £163,000. Last year there was considerable criticism, in which he took part, as to the then proposal of the Government. He did not think that any Member of that House who represented a Scottish constituency could fail to appreciate the fact that both in counties and burghs that money had been used for very many useful purposes. In his own county it had been largely used for the purpose of renewing bridges and of building hospital accommodation, which was necessary in consequence of an increased demand for it. Under this Bill the proposal was to give the local authorities £100,000 and take the balance. The measure would, therefore, give to the local authorities as much as they got when the Act of 1892 was passed, and all the Department proposed to take was the increment of £63,000. He was bound to say that, having regard to the source and origin of the fund, and that the money was originally devoted to educational purposes—[Cries of "No"]—well, undoubtedly the equivalent grant was given to them in respect of the sum which was devoted to the reduction of school fees in England—he thought this money was originally a sum which the Scottish Members, including Dr. Hunter, unanimously decided to devote to the reduction of fees which were then being charged in elementary schools in Scotland. Then came a time when demands for free education were made in England, and in response to that a Bill was introduced by which the Government devoted money out of the public Exchequer for the purpose of doing away with school fees in England altogether. A proportionate amount was devoted to Scotland, and as a result this equivalent grant, which originally had been devoted to educational purposes, was given over for other purposes. Several matters were made a first charge, one of them being a charge for secondary education, but the balance was left to the local authorities either to be used for the purpose of reducing rates or for the purpose of their applying it to some work of 1223 public utility approved by the Secretary for Scotland. That being so, he was bound to say that when the Government said that they needed this money now for the purpose of carrying out this scheme of secondary education, and, there being no equivalent grant available, that they proposed to lay more or less violent hands upon this £63,000, they were taking a course which he could not resist. But he should like to make an appeal to his right hon. friend. There had been expressed that day a strong feeling with regard to this matter on behalf of burghs in Scotland. Perhaps a way out of the difficulty might be found by the Lord-Advocate and the Secretary for Scotland agreeing to take a fixed sum out of the grant, say of £50,000, and then they could give to the local authorities, not only the £100,000 which the Bill gave, but the £13,000 and any further increment of it. If that were done he thought it ought to meet the extreme views even of the burgh representatives.
There had been considerable discussion that day upon two other questions; one the question of feeding children in schools, and the other the question of medical inspection. He should like to say this in regard to the feeding of school children, that it was a very easy thing for them in that House to say what every one of them desired, viz., that no hungry child should ever be in attendance at any school which it was compelled to attend. That was a thing upon which they were all agreed, but, when it came to putting the question as to whether there were a large number of such hungry children in Scotland or not, he thought some of them possibly might differ. He had had some experience in connection with school board work in Scotland, and during the twenty-one years he had been connected with it he did not remember ever having this question brought before him, and he was connected with one of the largest rural school boards in Scotland. How many hon. Members had ever been asked in Scotland to subscribe to funds for feeding school children? It might be that such was the case in regard to some schools in the Highlands, but he bad never been asked, and, except in one or two of the poorest parts of some of 1224 their richest cities, he doubted whether any such need existed. He would therefore ask hon. Members, before they passed legislation of so general a character, to consider that this question might gradually creep into such a position that the cry for relief from the payment of school fees assumed. He would ask them to pause and consider whether in their opinion the mothers and fathers of Scotland were really open to this charge of generally neglecting their children. He did not believe it for a single moment. He did not believe that except in certain districts there was necessity for special treatment of this kind. He thought, however, that in those special localities where the necessity existed power ought to be given to deal with it. But it should be a power which was very carefully restricted so that if might not do more harm than good, because he thought that, if it once came to be felt throughout Scotland that there was to be a general system of feeding school children, it would add enormously to the cost of education, and might seriously interfere with the class of education which they would be able to give.
Then as to the medical inspection which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cambridge University would like to have. He admitted that he had seen a report from Dundee which was exceedingly painful reading, as it was a description of people who belonged to a class who would always, unhappily, be with us, but he did not know that having regard to the conditions of life in which those children lived that they could expect them to be free from disease. When he heard, however, that there was to be a general medical inspection of all the day schools in Scotland he asked Members of the House to consider what that was going to cost and whether they were going to get a benefit out of such inspection at all commensurate with that cost. There must be an enormous number of children for whom no such inspection was necessary at all, but if they were going to set up a general system of anthropometrical examination of the children and they were going to do that twice a year the cost would be large. They had 800,000 children in Scotland, and supposing 1225 it cost 2s. 6d. a head each time—[Cries of "No!"] His hon. friends shook their heads, but he was sure that they would not get doctors to go through the labour of examining children to the extent suggested in these reports without a substantial fee, especially when they knew that that fee was to come out of the rates or the Exchequer. If the cost was 2s. 6d. per head it would cost £100,000 for each examination. That was equivalent to a penny rate upon the assessable value of Scotland, and he said that whilst it might be necessary to make examinations in certain schools in certain localities and for certain specific objects, he did not believe it was necessary to take Scotland all over, and he deprecated the idea that they should start on a new branch of public expenditure of that kind. Feeding the children and that system of medical examination, when the rates were so high, was not necessary especially when there was a growing feeling that what they wanted was good educational results but as light an addition to the rates as possible. For his part he hoped the Second Reading of the Bill would be passed, but he trusted that no proposal would be made to refer it to a Grand Committee. It should be dealt with by a Committee of the House, and he hoped that they might as soon as possible have it before them in Committee and pass it into law.
§ MR. WALLACE (Perth)
said he did not propose to discuss the general principle of the Bill because, as far as the discussion had gone, there had been no attack upon it and the debate had been entirely upon questions which would probably be more properly dealt with in Committee. As far as he understood it, if there was a principle underlying the Bill at all it was that of the maintenance in Scotland of the system of government of schools by the people themselves and the election of the authorities ad hoc, by those interested in education, to control education. He entirely dissented from his hon. friend opposite who said that the principle applicable to Scotland was not applicable to England, and he regretted very much that the Government did not last year, having introduced their Bill, press it forward and carry it. If it had been 1226 carried at that time it would have been received in Scotland with great cordiality, but in the interval which had elapsed a more critical examination had been given and there was the coldness which always followed delay. Although, therefore, the Bill would be acquiesced in, there was not now the same feeling of entire agreement in regard to it which prevailed a year ago.
The first question which had been raised was the question of area. Some hon. Members had proposed the larger area of the county as an alternative to the Bill, and others had proposed the smaller area of the parish, but for himself he thought the Government had been very happy in their selection. He thought that they had struck the golden mean between the two, as he considered the county was too large and for practical purposes many of the parishes were too small. He did think, moreover, that it was an important thing that they should have larger areas than at present, as he had noticed in Scotland in connection with country parishes that the teacher who got an appointment in a school settled down practically for the rest of his life. The teacher had not the opportunities which prevailed in larger school boards of promotion, and the result was that, with the best intentions in the world, oft-times the stimulus which the opportunity of promotion gave was taken away from him. He was sure that for the purpose of getting effective teachers the teacher should have the opportunity which would be given him under a larger school board. He should regret, however, if the effect of the measure should be to destroy the interest taken by parents in the education of their children. He realised that in Scotland school boards were very unlike school boards in England, and were bodies which were largely composed of the parents of children. They were largely composed of working men such as the grieve and the small crofter. He had seen these men do the most effective work in the world upon those school boards because the one thought of the Scotch parent in this matter was not economy, but how they could get the best education for the children attending the schools. That was the difference which existed between 1227 the parish school boards of Scotland and the small boards in parishes in England. The one desire of the latter was to save the rates—a very worthy object, but not when they were saved at the expense of education. He should be very sorry if representation, of the kind he had alluded to, on the school boards of Scotland were to cease.
He thought it would be very necessary that some provision should be made by which members of school boards should have their expenses provided for. It was all very well to say that they ought to sacrifice themselves and that they ought to give their time for the purposes of education. They had to live and to work, and they could not afford to attend those meetings unless the House made some provision of the kind he had indicated by which the necessary expenses of coming some distance to the central point where the school board met should be paid. If that was not done the House would destroy altogether the representation of that class in Scotland and that would be a great misfortune. On this point he had some doubt and misgiving as regarded the destruction of these smaller school boards, but he thought it could be met in the way he had suggested. He also thought that the Lord-Advocate might have considered in connection with this matter the difficulties in regard to the four districts described in the Bill. He thought that there were other large towns and cities in Scotland who might have had school boards. He knew that there were cities in Scotland large enough for the purpose of having an effective school board. He would take the case of Paisley, and suggested that in Committee the right hon. Gentleman might see whether he could not extend the number of districts.
Something had been said in regard to underfed children in Scotland. It might be true and was true, no doubt, that the grievance was not so great in Scotland as it was in England, but still it existed in Scotland, as any one who knew Scotland knew well, in many of their great cities. The Scotchman was nothing if not economical, and nothing could be more economical than to see that a child should be sent to school with strength to assimilate the education which was given. 1228 Money spent in order to enable a child to appreciate and take in the education.was not money wasted, but the best investment that the State could possibly make. He supported that view not merely on the ground of humanity, but on the further ground that no truer economy could, be found than that which enabled a child to make the best use of the education provided for him.
Another point was that no doubt there was a strong feeling at the-present time with reference to the-proposal of the Lord-Advocate with regard to the grants which the cities, enjoyed. The effect of the Lord-Advocate's proposal would be to alter the incidence of taxation as between the owner and the occupier entirely to the advantage of the owner, and against that the cities protested. He did not object to the money being devoted to education, but he did object to am alteration which would be in the interest of owners as against that of occupier, and he would take strong objection to the clause in Committee.
He would say only one word on the denominational difficulty. A clause in the Bill gave power to the school boards to give grants to other than schools under their own absolute control. That might shock some English Members, but in Scotland they took the view that they could trust the people in those matters. Practically, they never had any religious difficulty in Scotland; they had got rid of it simply by letting the people determine the question for themselves.
As to the provincial councils, he did not like them at all. He believed they would be a source of danger and friction, and would tend to destroy responsibility, but so long as the Scottish Education Department was in London they would probably be a necessity. The true solution was to bring the Education Department to Edinburgh into a new atmosphere and under new influences; there would then be no necessity for provincial councils. On the whole he congratulated the Lord-Advocate on the Bill, and hoped it would be speedily passed into law.
THE LORD-ADVOCATE (Mr. SCOTT-DICKSON,) Glasgow, Bridgton
said the 1229 Government could not complain of the reception which had been accorded to the Bill, but there had been a suggestion made in some of the speeches that neither last session nor this were the Government really anxious to get the Bill. He hoped that that suggestion would not receive credence either in England or in Scotland. There was no Bill that the Government, and especially the members of it who were connected with Scotland, were more anxious to get. He was convinced, indeed, from communications which he had received from all classes and sections of people in Scotland, that there was no Bill which Scotland desired more to get, even if it were passed without any Amendments at all. The enormous preponderance of Scottish feeling was in favour of it. The discussion, interesting and useful though it had been, had dealt with matters which were rather Committee points than Second Reading questions, and it would not be right for him, on many of those, matters, to give a final or definite decision until they had been considered in detail in Committee.
The hon. Member for Camberwell, who had made his usual speech on Scottish education, did not take account of the unfortunate position of England so far as education was concerned. [Dr. MACNAMARA: I do.] The differences between the two countries began long before 1902 or even 1870—[Dr. MACNAMARA: I know]—when the English people were unfortunate enough to take refuge in Cowper-Temple clauses and the refusal to have a universal school board system or to recognise that they had trusted far too long to voluntary and Church methods. It was too bad, however, now not to recognise the debt which England owed to the Church, for no other body in England had done its duty in this matter so effectually as the Church had done.
MR. SCOTT DICKSON
said the hon. Member declared that the Government dare not abolish school boards in Scotland. That was because the Scottish people were a long way ahead of England, and the hon. Member had better 1230 set about educating the English people before he tried his hand on the Scotch. One could not help recalling that the consideration of this Bill came up at a time when the author of the Act of 1872, of which it was an Amendment, was retiring from official life, and all would recognise the debt which Scottish education owed to Lord Young.
The question which had been referred to most frequently in the debate was that of the areas, and upon that he did not think the Government could see their way to modify the position they had laid down in the Bill. There were two great problems to consider in discussing this question of areas. Undoubtedly, so far as elementary education was concerned, the smaller the area the better would be the administration. ["No."] On the other hand, the same principle would not apply to secondary education. Accordingly the Government had endeavoured to find some mode of reconciling these two difficulties; and, giving the best consideration they could to the matter, they thought that the district really afforded, on the whole, the best solution, the best compromise. Undoubtedly there were cases where a smaller area might have been better, and other cases where a larger area would have been preferable; it was not at all a Party question, and on the whole the Government had thought the district was the best basis on which to work. Last session large concessions were made which went a long way to meet the difficulties that were raised, and it was not thought necessary to divide the House on the question. He could not think a point like this was worthy, he did not say of consideration, but of long discussion, either upon Second Reading or in Committee, when it was borne in mind that the House unanimously accepted the principle last session and when, in addition, it was remembered that they had taken care to give greater elasticity to the powers which would enable greater combination or greater division to be made according to the special circumstances of each division of the country. The Government had, in this respect, shown their anxiety to meet, as far as they possibly could, the fair claims of those who 1231 differed upon this matter, and he could not, as at present advised, offer any hope that they would change their views on this question. He trusted that nothing they did would diminish local interest in education, because that would be an enormous misfortune. They hoped the provisions they had introduced with regard to management, even as they stood or under reasonable amendment, would secure that local interest would not only not be diminished, but would be even enhanced in the future.
As to the financial aspects of the Bill, he thought too much had been said about the question of the equivalent grant. Personally he represented a Division of Glasgow where the town council held strong views on the question with which he was sorry not to be able to agree. It was some consolation, however, to believe that he had the cordial support of the Glasgow School Board.
MR. SCOTT DICKSON
said that was no doubt the case, and even town councils were human. The equivalent grant really had its origin in education, because in the Act under which it was given it was enacted that there should be distributeda sum of £100,000 or such other sum as with the sums directed to be applied under the provisions of the three preceding sub-sections of this section will be equal to the fee grant in Scotland.Originally fixed at £100,000, the amount had grown to between £160,000 and £170,000, and last year in the Bill as introduced it was proposed to take the whole of the money. Representations were then made both by county and by burgh councils, and, as a result, Lord Dunedin intimated that he was prepared to say that he would not take more than the surplus over the £100,000 for education. He thought that concession was accepted by many representing both the counties and the burghs as fair and reasonable—["Hear, hear! and "No."]—that was his view of it—and he confessed that, so far as he was concerned at that moment, though he would listen to reasonable 1232 arguments, he was not prepared to go one halfpenny beyond that arrangement. He hoped he should receive the support of hon. Members on both sides of the House in securing that the £60,000 should go to education. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberdeen, who was in duty bound to support his constituents in this matter, had spoken of the heavy burden this would place on the rates. As a matter of fact the total difference would be ½d. in the £, but taking into account that some rates were paid by occupiers alone, and some by owners and occupiers, the net balance would be something like one farthing in the pound, and, for himself, he was not sorry for any of the burghs if they lost that farthing in the interest of education. So far as that matter was concerned, he did not see his way, although he would keep an open mind, to suggest that there was any room for concession at all. The suggestion of his right hon. friend the Member for Govan with regard to the enumerated districts and the pooling arrangement affected only Edinburgh and Glasgow, and if there was a general desire in those districts that the course suggested by the right hon. Gentleman should be taken it seemed fair and reasonable that it should be done. That did not apply to the other districts of Aberdeen and Dundee, as they included only the existing school board districts, Dundee was naturally desirous of enlarging its boundaries, but he did not feel inclined to concede that. Govan and Leith, on the other hand, were naturally anxious to remain where they were, but he did not feel inclined to concede that either, so that perhaps the one might be set off against the other.
As to the grant to voluntary schools, the hon. Member for Camberwell did not seem to appreciate that it would be made only under Minute containing general conditions, and no doubt the structural and sanitary conditions of the schools would be taken into account. There would be no special provision for voluntary schools apart from other schools. In Scotland they settled their religious differences in regard to education thirty years ago, and they did 1233 not want to raise them again. They had never had passive resisters in Scotland. They had rated Roman Catholics and Episcopalians, and had refused to teach Episcopalianism or Roman Catholicism except in some Highland parishes where Roman Catholics were in a majority. He sincerely hoped that no religious question would be raised on this Bill. In Scotland they had reached the stage where they thought they could conduct their education on lines suitable to their views on denominational education, and the minority recognised that they must submit to the majority in the matter. He hoped that that feeling would prevail throughout the proceedings on the Bill, as they would then avoid an enormous amount of difficulty and contention which it seemed to be impossible to avoid south of the Tweed.
MR. SCOTT DICKSON
Well, you are not educated up to it.
Other important questions raised were those relating to medical inspection and the feeding of children. So far as medical inspection was concerned, he thought they had gone far enough in Sections 26 and 46. He did not suggest that they had gone too far. It was quite proper that those powers should be given, and now that public attention had been directed to the question local authorities might be trusted to do what was fair and reasonable in the matter. Without desiring in the least to make Party capital out of the fact, he might remind the House that the question had been brought prominently forward during the existence of the present Government. If public opinion had been focussed on this question of the physical condition of the children in the schools, it had been the result of the Royal Commission on Physical Training in Scotland and the Committee on Physical Deterioration. No public body concerned with the education of the young would now fail to give due attention to the question. As to the feeding of the children, the Royal Commission, which was not a Party body, reported that in Scotland existing difficulties were to a large extent met by voluntary effort in 1234 co-operation with the school boards. The Commission was distinctly of opinion that, apart from providing for the kitchen accommodation, no further charge should be put upon the rates.
§ MR. McCRAE
pointed out that the Commission was confined to the question of physical training, and it was only so far as it had to do with physical training that the Commission was able to deal with the question of feeding.
MR. SCOTT DICKSON
reminded the hon. Member that the Commission made careful inquiry into the medical inspection and the feeding of the children, and in to, the question of how the underfed children should be dealt with, the result of the inquiry being as he had stated. That being so he thought it would be a strong order to say that that House, after an examination which could not be exhaustive or satisfactory, should go beyond the recommendation of the Commission, which heard all the evidence and considered it carefully. He was sure that it would not be thought for a moment that they on that side of the House were less concerned about this question than members of the Opposition. Certainly, if ever there was a question devoid of Party this question was. One heard charges against Imperialism, but this was the very basis of Imperialism, and therefore he was sure that, whatever their views might be as to the course to be taken, no one would doubt for a moment that Members on the Government side were entirely in sympathy with the views of those who desired to do what was best in this matter in view of all the circumstances of the case. But it was necessary to bear in mind the Report of the Commission and the fact that they had not only to deal with the children of paupers, but also with the children of people who were just a little above paupers, and who were determined to secure that they should be independent of public aid. They had also to remember that they had voluntary schools to deal with, and they could not provide food for the children in the Board schools and say that the children in the voluntary schools should not he provided with it. All he would say 1235 on this matter was that they had safe ground to go upon if they took the recommendations of the Commission as a tentative measure, and if that did not prove satisfactory then they might go further. But in what was really an experimental matter he suggested that they should not go further at present than those who had been appointed to consider the matter had advised.
§ MR. KEIR HARDIE (Merthyr Tydvil)
asked whether the Lord-Advocate was prepared to go as far as the Report of the Commission in saying that—Powers should be given to provide a meal and to demand from the parents the payment of the cost.
MR. SCOTT DICKSON
said that if the hon. Member would look at paragraphs 105 to 174 of the Report he would see that the Commission suggested that certain steps should be tried to begin with. He thought they might at least try this to begin with. They should endeavour to get more co-operation between the school boards and voluntary agencies, and by doing that they would get out of the difficulty. He had made inquiries from the school inspectors, and from many of the leading educationists in Scotland, and he was quite convinced that he was expressing enlightened public opinion upon the matter when he said that they ought not to go beyond the recommendations of the Commission upon this question. All he would say on this matter was that they had safe ground to go upon if they took the recommendations of the Commission as a tentative measure, and, if that did not prove satisfactory, then they might go further. But let them make this experiment first.
Reference had been made to the training of teachers, and he quite appreciated many of the observations made. At the same time, he thought the proposals of the Government embodied in the Bill and in the Minute of the Department had met with general approval. He had no doubt any points raised could be satisfactorily met in Committee.
As to the provincial councils, he did not think sufficient attention had 1236 been paid to the very considerable powers, given to them. Some trust in these matters must be given to the Education Department, which had not proved unworthy of trust in the past. He was sure the desire of the Department would be to see that these councils were strong: representative bodies whose advice would be likely to be of service. With regard to what had been said about the Universities, he thought that was a matter more for Committee, and so far as he was concerned he saw no difficulty in having an additional provincial council in order that the views of the Highland population should receive adequate consideration and attention, and more especially that they should secure adequate provision for the teaching they required, according; to their special needs. He did not think that would raise any difficulty at all and it would not cause any loss of time in dealing with this question. As for the powers of the committees established under the Bill, he thought they had given them a great deal. The Government had not been able to meet the views of those who preferred a national council, but he trusted that the joint committee they had established would be accepted as evidence of their desire to see that the provincial councils should have the opportunity of meeting and consulting each other.
The only other point he had to-deal with was in reference to the future procedure in regard to the Bill. He did not know whether the kind things which had been said about this Bill by hon. Members opposite would be followed up by equally kind action in the future and equally short speeches. Failing that, of course, a Bill of the dimensions of this measure could very easily be killed. He had no-answer to make to that question until knew what was the attitude of horn Gentlemen opposite towards the Motion of the hon. Member for Banffshire, on the Paper, that the Bill should be referred to a Committee consisting of all the Members from Scotland, together with fifteen other Members to be nominated by the Committee of Selection.
§ MR. THOMAS SHAW
Will my right hon. friend give us a Committee or the Whole House if that Motion is withdrawn?
MR. SCOTT DICKSON
Certainly. He had endeavoured before the Second Reading came on to arrange that that should be so, but he had been unable to do so.
§ MR. BLACK (Banffshire)
Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake that, if the Bill goes to a Committee of the Whole House, the views of the Scottish Members shall prevail?
MR. SCOTT DICKSON
said he should like to know who was the Leader of the Opposition in this matter. The hon. Member for Hawick Burghs imposed one condition, and then the hon. Member for Banffshire wished to impose another condition. They would never get the Bill through at all if that was the way they were going to proceed. He felt certain that the people in Scotland would understand the position, and if they did not get a Committee of the House they would know that the reason was on account of the opposition of hon. Members opposite, and they would know that it was because hon. Members opposite could not agree as to the course to be pursued. He was prepared to accept the suggestion of the hon. Member for Hawick, but as to the proposal of the hon. Member for Banffshire, they should never get the Bill if that were carried. As time was the essence of the whole thing, he was prepared to give a Committee of the Whole House, provided the Bill was read the second time that night and there was no further trouble about getting into Committee.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
It has always been urged from the Liberal Benches that all big Scotch measures like this should be referred to the Scotch Members, with a decent margin of other Members to preserve etiquette in the matter, but the Committee should comprise all the Scotch Members. It is very seldom that we have so big a, Scotch Bill at this, and why should the Scotch Members not be allowed to have their say upon it, not in the sense of letting off speeches, but in the sense of having their votes recorded and their influence having proper weight in the decision of this question. The Lord- 1238 Advocate is rather scornful of the idea-put forward by my hon. friend the Member for Banffshire, that if it is to be treated in the Whole House only Scotch votes should be counted. I admit that that is a novelty, but it is not an idea which should be treated in a scornful way, because it at least has common sense at the back of it. The Lord-Advocate comes forward in a sort of Dutch auction, and asks us to make a bargain by which we are to agree to his proposal that the Bill shall be dealt with in the Whole House on certain conditions, or else some dreadful things will happen. The right hon. Gentleman has spoken about the value of time in regard to the future fortunes of the Bill. But has there been any waste of time? Not a moment. We have no desire to obstruct the Bill. But, as I have said, we have always insisted upon the principle that a Bill of this kind should be decided by the Members from Scotland; and if the right hon. Gentleman will not give us a purely Scotch Committee, we should prefer the open light of a Committee of the Whole House to a hole-and-corner Committee upstairs; although it has been our experience in similar cases in the past that while, so far as the Scotch Members are concerned, we have had majorities of two, three, or four to one, we have been overborne by the votes of English, Irish, and Welsh Members.
§ MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid)
said this Bill was of a highly technical character, and one which the ordinary member of the public could not be expected fully to comprehend without a much fuller explanation and criticism than had yet appeared, either in the Press, or in the speeches of supporters of the Bill, Indeed, it would not be until the Bill had passed into law, and was in actual working, that the general public could or would comprehend the drastic and reactionary nature of the changes contemplated. In the meantime, the Bill had been discussed, and, in the main, approved of, by various educational authorities from the point of view of their personal interests; and the interests of the teachers had been well looked after by their powerful organisation, which had been unceasing in its efforts, and which had been able to claim that all or 1239 nearly everyone of their recommendations I had been embodied in the Bill, and whose one desire was to see the Bill Speedily passed in its present shape. It had also been approved of by voluntary school managers, who were specially interested in certain provisions of the Bill, which, while continuing unimpaired the existing control of their schools, permitted not only of further grants from Imperial and Scotch sources, but also from the rates, at the will of a school board, subject to such conditions as the school board might impose. The Bill had also the active approval of the Glasgow School Board, as, by the Bill, not only was its own autonomy preserved, but a further population of not less than 208,000 was added to its existing population of 623,000, by the abolition of Govan us a separate school board district. Then it went without saying that the teachers in both the Govan and Glasgow schools actively supported the Bill, inasmuch as they believed that the larger area would furnish them with a greater field for promotion. Now, these were all powerful influences, whose opinions on educational matters had deservedly much weight with the general public in Scotland, although, in the matter of this Bill their personal interests predominated. The Bill had been but little discussed from the point of view of the general public. There had been a great deal of head-shaking and disapproval of the Bill in many influential quarters, but there had been no organisation to combat the powerful influences at work on the part of interested education authorities, and, hence, it was clamed that the feeling of Scotland was in favour of the Bill, whilst, in reality, the nature of the Bill and its effect had been little discussed from the point of view of the parents and the general public. Finally, the Bill had the hearty approval of the Scotch Education Department, by whom it had been drawn up; who had collared for education nearly all the Imperial grants given to Scotland, and who, by the Bill, had centralised in themselves (a body sitting in London), practically all power and authority as regarded education in Scotland; whilst the education authorities and even the provincial councils created by the Bill were simply so much educational machinery to carry out the behests of the 1240 Department. The distribution of huge grants of money were at the unfettered disposal of the Department. The Bill no doubt provided for these monies being distributed under Minutes to be laid before Parliament; but whilst these Minutes were put on the Table for information, there was no power in the House of Commons to discuss and amend them, or to prevent their coming into effect, except by the drastic remedy of a change of Government produced by a defeat on the Education Estimates.
When the Education Bill of last year was introduced it seemed to meet with a favourable reception. That approval, however, was not due to any inherent merits of the Bill, but rather to the relief that was felt when it was announced that, contrary to the English Bill, and to the arguments of the Government thereon, the Bill continued the recognition of the principle of popularly-elected school boards. It was not a case of approval of the Bill as being better for education, but of relief that the Bill was not worse. He had been unfortunate in not having an opportunity of speaking on the Bill of last session, either on its introduction or on the Second Reading. If, therefore, he went pretty fully into the Bill on this occasion, it was because this was the first and only opportunity which he had had for discussing the Bill as a whole. Besides, there were obvious advantages of a full discussion on Second Reading.
The leading features of the Bill were that, in the first place, it abolished 920 parish and parish district school boards and fifty-seven burgh school boards, substituting for them 107 county and county district school boards and four burgh school boards. Glasgow (including Govan, Partick, Kinning Park, Rutherglen, and Pollokshaws), Edinburgh (including Leith), Dundee, and Aberdeen, making one hundred and eleven in all-Secondly, the Bill also sought to deprive county councils and town councils of a residue granted to them by Parliament in 1890—amounting roughly to £70,000 per annum—which they had power to apply either to the relief of rates, or to technical education, but which they had been applying to the extent of three fourths to technical education and of 1241 only one-fourth, to the relief of rates. Thirdly, the Bill further sought to deprive local authorities of a large portion of the residue given to them under the Act of 1892—being a sum of ten shillings per child in average attendance, less certain preferential payments amounting to about £168,000. This, for the current year worked out at a clear residue of £182,000, obtained by taking the fee grant of this year (£350,000), and deducting the preferential payments. The residue was an annually increasing one, increasing with the increase in the school attendance. The Bill of last session appropriated the whole of the residue. The present Bill allowed local authorities to retain a fixed sum of £100,000, but appropriated the balance, namely, £82,000 a year, plus the increment of future years. Fourthly, the Bill deprived popularly-elected bodies, such as county councils and town councils, of that say and control in subsidising secondary and technical education, both in counties and burghs, which they had been exercising for the last fifteen years to the great benefit of secondary and technical education within their districts. In the distribution of this money, the local authorities were able to act on their own local knowledge of the value of the secondary educational work done in counties and burghs, and, having no schools of their own, these local authorities were able to treat all schools impartially in the distribution of the grants. No complaints had been made against the distribution, whilst no valid reason had been assigned why county councils and town councils should be superseded in the management of these funds. The great value of popularly-elected bodies lay in the interest in education which was thereby created and aroused in the community, and which was so essential to the progress of education.
Although education was not in Scotland a Party question, there was much in this Bill which partook of a Party character. The Liberal policy had always been to encourage, whilst the Conservative policy had generally been to discourage, popularly-elected management and control. The present Government favoured county councils, but a Liberal Government passed the Education Act, 1872, estab- 1242 lishing school boards in every parish and burgh in Scotland, which the present Bill sought to abolish. A Liberal Government also took an early opportunity to establish parish councils in every parish, and so brought popularly-elected institutions as close as possible to the doors of the people. Parish councils, no doubt, would next be threatened if the present Government had a longer lease of power. That the people of Scotland appreciated the management of their local affairs was shown by the avidity with which populous places, consisting of 700 inhabitants, had been erected into burghs. In England the present Government had abolished popularly-elected school boards, and had relegated education to be dealt with by an education committee appointed by the county council. In Scotland the Government had not dared to go that length; but they had gone a long way in that direction by seeking to abolish 1,000 school boards and to replace them by only 111 school boards; whilst at the same time depriving county councils and town councils of all say in secondary education.
From this survey, it must be obvious that the Bill opened up a wide field for discussion, and that it was not a Bill which ought to be allowed to pass without such a full discussion, both on Second Reading and in Committee, which the importance of education, and the great changes involved, necessarily demanded. Schools giving public education—not wholly of an elementary character, but including secondary—had existed in every parish in Scotland since 1696, and in some cases before that. The parish was not only the area for education, but also for the church, the management of the poor, and such like. Accustomed to act together in every matter relating to the parish area, and affecting the well-being of the parishioners, each parish came to have a unity and characteristic of its own, which made it differ essentially from any of its neighbouring parishes. Accordingly, the Education-Act, 1872, not only perpetuated the parish area, but also established school boards in burghs, handing over to these latter the schools in the burgh which were of a secondary character. Parliament thus recognised that education was 1243 essentially bound up with the life of the people, and that the inhabitants of burghs might have views and aspirations with regard to education totally different from those in the landward portion of parishes, No complaints had been made of the manner in which existing school boards had performed their work. On the contrary, the reports of His Majesty's inspectors spoke most highly of educational progress, and of the manner in which education, both primary and secondary, was being encouraged, alike by parents, ratepayers, and local authorities. There was nothing which a school board created under this Bill, might do which could not be equally and better done by existing school boards, if the power were conferred.
The county and county district; area which it was proposed by the Bill to substitute was quite a modern area, with no special reference to population, and formed with reference to such subjects as roads and bridges, sanitation, and the like, matters in which the people of the district had a common interest as ratepayers, but not affecting their life so closely as education. The county and county district area presented every variety and anomaly. Let him take for a contrast Buteshire—the constituency of Mr. Graham Murray who brought forward the Bill of last session—and compare it with the Middle Ward of Lanarkshire, in which Mid Lanark was situated. Buteshire, with a population of 18,787 had at present two school boards in Arran, three in Bute, and one in Cumbræ. By the Bill Buteshire would have three school boards—one in each of Arran, Bute, and Cumbræ, the latter having only a population of 1,800. The Middle Ward of Lanarkshire, on the other hand, which had a population of 322,000, about four times the population of Dumbartonshire and three times the population of Perthshire, and covered an area extending from and including Airdrie to Cambuslang and thence to Shotts, was only to have one school board, and the existing nineteen school boards were to be abolished, the officers and servants being pensioned. In the case of Renfrewshire, with a population of 295,000, there were to be two school boards, whilst twenty-three existing school boards were to be abolished.
1244 The effect of this change of area was that the parishes and burghs in Scotland which had hitherto had the full control of their education—the appointment and dismissal of teachers, the fixing of salaries, the erection of school buildings, the determination of the school rate, the enforcement of compulsory powers and the exemption of children from attendance at school—would be deprived of that control, which would be exercised by a school board whose head office, no doubt, would be in some central position in the county or county district, but which would be equally inconvenient for a large number of parishes.
The Bill, although discarding the parish and burgh area in regard to school control, had not been able altogether to discard the parish area. Bach parish was to be separately assessed for the annual sum necessary to pay off existing loans for school buildings erected in the parish, whilst the annual sum necessary to pay off future loans for any new school buildings which the school board created by the Bill might erect was to be charged upon the parish or parishes whose educational requirements the schools were calculated to serve. A parish council might appeal to the Education Department against any determination of the school board on this matter of capital expenditure for schools. The whole of the other expenditure of the school board, including school board contests, was to be paid out of the common fund of the entire school board district, to be apportioned among the parishes according to their valuations in the valuation roll. The school rate was to be collected in each parish along with the poor rate, and was to be subject to the same classification of occupier's rate (if any) as the poor rate. The school rate would not, therefore, be uniform throughout the education district, but the Bill provided a means for arriving at a hypothetical rate in determining certain grants. At present, a parish or burgh was left free to rate itself, to appoint its own teachers, and to push on its own education untrammelled by any interference of neighbouring parishes. By the Bill it might find itself thwarted in its desire to appoint a superior class of teachers by a majority of representatives who might decline to assess the 1245 whole district for such increased expenditure, whilst the parish or burgh would not be able to burden its own rate. A school board might also insist on a parish or burgh accepting against its will a teacher from another school in the same education district whom the school board might be desirous of promoting. The necessary effect of combining parishes into a county or county district area would be that some parishes would have to pay more school rate and others less than heretofore. Parishes who were to pay less might be expected to be satisfied, but parishes which were to pay more would have a decided grievance. The Bill did not present an equitable solution of this matter. Some adjustment would be required having regard to the existing variety of school rate in the different parishes.
The wider area would lead to extravagance of management without any corresponding educational benefit, whilst the management would drift more and more into the hands of officials and further away from popular control. Indeed, that was just one of the results which the teachers expected to follow from the larger area. The larger area would also render it impossible for working men from a distance to become members of the school board. Provision would have to be made for payment of expenses. The Bill provided for the appointment of school managers. In the case of the four larger burghs, the school board might, but were not bound to, appoint managers either for one school or for a group of schools. All existing school boards had that power which was conferred by the Act of 1872; but it had been little, if ever, acted upon. The existing school boards had undertaken the work personally, which was in the interest of all concerned, whether teacher or pupil, parent or rate paper. In the case of county or county district school boards managers, must be appointed for each school or group of schools under their charge. The number of managers and the appointment of the managers rested with the school board and not with the people of the parish, The Bill of last year did provide that two-thirds of the managers were to be appointed, in the case of schools situated 1246 in a burgh by the town council, and if other cases by the parish council or the landward committee. Even that little concession to local control was taken away by the Bill of this year, showing to what an extent the Bill was being controlled in the supposed interest of the teachers. School managers were to have no power of raising money by rate or loan, or of incurring capital expenditure, or of appointing or dismissing teachers, whilst the managers must observe such rules, conditions, and restrictions as the school board might from time to time prescribe. The managers were to include the member or members of the school board representing the electoral division or burgh, as the case might be, in whish the school was situate. The appointment of managers under such circumstances was simply a sham, giving an appearance of local control where, in reality, there was none. He wished the teachers much joy in their association with the class of managers who accepted office under such conditions. Certainly, the status of such managers could not be compared with the status of members of existing school boards chosen by the people.
There was another matter specially affecting the interest of the parent dealt with in the Bill, namely, the school attendance committee. At present the power of compelling parents to perform their duty of providing efficient elementary education, and of granting exemption to individual children from the obligation to attend school, was vested in, and was exercised personally by, the members of the school board, who were personally acquainted with the district, with the circumstances of the people, and with the conditions of employment. That was one of the most important duties which school boards had to perform. It was laid upon them by the Act of 1901. In the wider area, a parish might only have one school board representative. The Bill provided for delegation to a school attendance committee or committees of their own number to which they were to have power (but there, was no compulsion) to add—Such number of persons connected with the locality, not being members of the school board, as they may see fit, not exceeding one-half of the whole number of the committee.1247 There was no security here that parents would continue to receive that protection which at present they were receiving from the local knowledge of school board representatives. There was a good deal of friction arising at present owing to the action of the Department in seeking to over-ride the exemptions granted by school boards. He had had this matter brought under his notice in visitations throughout Mid Lanark and he had no hesitation in saying that matters were approaching a crisis. Perhaps it might be said that the wider area would result in few exemptions being granted. Yes, but fewer exemptions might in many cases mean greater poverty and the inability of parents to feed and clothe their children—the man with the smallest and most precarious wage having not infrequently the largest family. The Education Act of 1872, in making education compulsory, recognised that education was a matter of personal and vital concern to parents, and an interference with parental duty and responsibility. Prior to 1872 education was not compulsory, although as a rule parents did give their children an education compatible with their means. As education was not compulsory, the parent had the choice of school, especially in populous places. The effect of the 1872 Act was to kill private adventure schools and to leave parents with no choice of school other than Board school. The Act, however, appointed school boards for every parish and burgh, to whom the control of education was handed over. In order that the interests of parents might be protected, a wide franchise for school board purposes was adopted, not merely household suffrage in counties, but of every person whose name appeared on the valuation roll, without any disqualification through non-payment of rates. For the better protection of minorities the cumulative vote was given. Not only was the cumulative vote taken away, which no one objected to, but this personal touch and control of the parent in the electing of a parish school board was also taken away in breach of the undertaking given when education was made compulsory.
He asked, now, what was the justification for such a drastic change as the 1248 abolition of parish and burgh school boards. It was not said that the management of education by existing school boards had been a failure. On the contrary, the annual Reports of the Scotch Education Department were a series of annual congratulations of the steady progress of education both in regard to school attendance and quality. By the Estimates, the grant this year was now £1 4s. per scholar. In the last published Report of the Department, that for the year ended August 31st, 1903, it was stated—The increase in the number of scholars on the register, 16,875, as compared with an increase of 1,177 for the preceding year, is sufficiently striking; but it is all the more remarkable that it is traceable for the most part to an increase in the number of older scholars. The increase may be taken as a measure of the efficacy of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1901, and it is satisfactory to find that it has been accompanied by more than a corresponding increase in the average attendance. The percentage of average attendance to the number on the register, 85 per cent., is the best on record.Again, it could not be said that the wider area would attract a better class of members for the school board. Take the case of Glasgow School Board. He did not think that there was any special superiority in the members of that school board; whilst on smaller school boards, from the very fact that they were smaller and possessed a local interest, some of the best educational talent would be found. There remained, however, one argument which was put forward in every speech delivered from the Government Bench in support of the county area in the English Bill, namely, that of co-ordinating all education, primary and secondary, in one education authority. The word "coordination" in their mouths rolled as sweetly as the blessed word Mesopotamia. However applicable the coordination argument might have been in the case of England, it was utterly inapplicable to the case of Scotland. In England the education to be given was elementary and was so described in the Act of 1870; and many were familiar with the Cockerton case, where the London School Board was surcharged for providing education which was of a secondary character. In Scotland, on the other hand, there never had been 1249 any division of education into elementary and secondary, and the Education (Scotland) Act, 1872, made no such distinction. The national system of education in Scotland was never limited to elementary. The parish schools were the usual feeders of the University. Under the Act of 1872 eleven of the burgh schools, now under the management of the school board, were scheduled as higher-class schools, and school boards were empowered, subject to the approval of the Department, to convert any of the schools under their management into higher-class public schools. By an Act passed in 1878, the application of the school fund was authorised for the purposes of these schools. In Scotland, therefore, there was no distinction between elementary and secondary education, and all forms of education were co-ordinated in existing school boards.
The manner in which this co-ordination was carried out under school boards was very interesting, and much developed during the last few years. The ordinary State-aided board schools, in receipt of Parliamentary grants under the Code had two ascending stages of secondary education. (1) The supplementary courses for those who had passed the elementary stage, and were compelled to remain at school till fourteen years of age. (2) Higher-grade, departments might be formed in any Board school for those pupils who, having obtained the merit certificate, desired to carry their education further. These departments were intended as preparatory training for entrance to higher-class and secondary schools, as well as for carrying forward the education of those who did not intend to embark upon a regular curriculum of study in a higher-class school, but who might intend to leave school between fifteen and sixteen years of age. There had been a remarkable increase in the number of these higher-grade departments from thirty-six in operation in 1902–3 to seventy at the beginning of session 1904. In addition to the ordinary State-aided Board schools in receipt of Parliamentary grants, existing school boards had, as he had already stated, higher-class public schools, where secondary and technical education might be carried to any height. There 1250 were thirty-two of such schools under school boards. The schools did not get grants under the day school Code, but they got grants from funds allotted for secondary education, and they received bursars and free scholars from other schools. In addition to these there were continuation classes in centres all over Scotland, which took cognisance of all forms of specialised instruction, from the most elementary to that given in specially selected central institutions, which, according to last year's Education Report, might be described as Industrial Universities. These central institutions were:—1, Dundee Technical Institute; 2, Elinburgh Heriot Watt College; 3, Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College; 4, Glasgow School of Art; 5, Edinburgh and East of Scotland College of Agriculture; 6, The West of Scotland Agricultural College; and, improcess of establishment; 7, Aberdeen Agricultural College. Besides the thirty-two higher-class public schools under school boards, there were twenty-four endowed schools, and thirty-eight schools under voluntary managers, making ninety-four in all, which were under inspection as higher-class schools. These schools had 17,921 children of all ages on the school roll—one half of that number being in the thirty two schools under the management of school boards. Of the total 17,921 children on the roll, 4,551 were under twelve years of are, most probably receiving preparatory training; leaving 13,370 children on the roll twelve years of age and upward. It was obvious that the instruction given in these higher-class schools was of a totally different character from the primary and secondary instruction given in the ordinary State-aided schools, which were the feeders of these higher-class schools; and that these higher-class schools were as much distinct from the ordinary State-aided schools as were the Universities from the higher-class schools. Education in Scotland naturally divided itself into three divisions: (1) the State-aided schools where all primary and secondary education of a kind was carried on; (2) the purely secondary and technical schools; and (3) the Universities. Each of these divisions required different educational qualifications for management. It would be absurd that the 800,000 children 1251 on the school registers of State-aided schools should have their whole educational system upset for the sake of coordinating and controlling it in the interest of the 13,370 children in the secondary schools with whom there was nothing in common. If co-ordination was to be a principle, why not carry it to its logical conclusion and co-ordinate the whole three divisions; University education as well? Existing school boards had been proceeding in the direction of higher education as fast as—indeed, according to Sir Henry Craik's Report on Higher Education, much faster than—the capacities and circumstances of the pupils would allow. Sir Henry Craik said—One drawback to which the inspectors have frequently adverted as a hindrance to efficiency shows some signs of diminishing. This is the fact that scholars who come to the secondary schools from the primary schools are not always fitted by previous education to take their places in the same class with those who have had the advantage of being trained with a view to higher education. This tendency is found to be largely increased by bursaries and free places, which are provided out of the amount available for secondary education for scholars from primary schools.Again, speaking on the subject of the growth of over-pressure, Sir Henry said—It remains to be added that by far the most serious feature which the reports of the inspectors reveal is the continued steady growth of over-pressure in the upper classes of many of the second-try schools. Inquiries made in different parts of the country show that, under existing circumstances, it is no uncommon tiling for boys, and even for girls, to spend live or six ho us nightly on home less ins. It must be obvious that the nervous strain entailed is excessive, and that it cannot f dl to react unfavourably on the intellectual no less than on the physical development of at least a certain proportion of the pupils.These higher-class schools—both the thirty-two under school board management and the sixty-two under authorities other than school boards—were all inspected by inspectors selected by the Department, at a cost of £6,300 for these inspections; and for the leaving certificate examinations. The inspectors conferred with the school authorities as to methods of instruction, and pointed out weaknesses, arid showed how defects might be removed. According to Returns for the year 1900–1, these higher-class schools; were in receipt of ample funds. They received grants from funds 1252 allotted to secondary and technical education of £61,000; from endowments £33,331; from fees (including fees of bursars and free scholars) £85,381; from rates £23,007; or a total of £203,719. This Bill did not propose in any way to touch any of the schools other than those under the management of existing school boards, the new school boards simply coming in place of, and as successors to, existing school boards. Existing school boards could do everything which the new school boards could do under the Bill if existing school boards had the same powers conferred upon them, whilst the whole complications caused by the wider area would be avoided.
The Bill was mainly a Bill of machinery for transferring education from existing school boards to the school boards created by the Bill. The first 24 clauses all had reference to, and were necessitated by, that transference. Clauses 24 to 28 inclusive, which dealt with additional borrowing powers; additional general powers; differential scale of fees; and keeping and audit of school board accounts, could be put in a Bill conferring these powers on existing school boards. Part III. relating to provincial councils for education would apply whether the school boards were the existing school boards, or were the school boards created under the Bill. The same with regard to Part IV. relating to the Education (Scotland) Fund and higher education. Clauses 35 to 40 inclusive would go out, whilst, if desired, Clauses 41 to 47 inclusive could be made to apply to existing school boards. The remaining clauses, excepting Clause 55, would go out. That the Bill was simply one of transference from existing school boards to school boards created under the Bill was shown by the fact that thirty-seven clauses were all connected with, and caused by, that transfer, and only eighteen clauses related to matter of new powers, which could be dealt with by themselves and applied to existing school boards. As he had pointed oat, the education would be more efficient under existing school boards, whilst the funds available for education would be the same. The real fact was that the changes of area had been brought about largely at the instance of those who seemed to 1253 think that their personal interests might be promoted by the change.
It was fancied by some teachers that the wider area might load to more lavish expenditure and to an increase in teachers' salaries. That there might be lavish expenditure might he expected, but not necessarily in the way of increase of teachers' salaries. In practice, it would probably be found that, in some cases, it would work out towards lavishness of expenditure, but in other cases, chiefly rural districts, the tendency might be in the reverse direction. Where there was a large populous centre with a large representation on the school board, combined into an education district with agricultural parishes with a large valuation and a small population, no doubt there might be a temptation to increase expenditure if the increase were largely borne by the country parishes In other cases, where a burgh was formed into an education district with a number of country parishes, the estate factor and the large ratepayers in the parish who might rule the school board might go in for economy, and might not sympathise with the educational aspirations of the townspeople. They all knew the extraordinary effect which the mere proposal of a one penny per pound tax for free libraries produced on some minds. His own decided conviction was that teachers would find that the more their work commended itself to the parents, and to the community in which they taught, and the closer the parents and the community were to the purse-strings, untrammelled by any outside interference, the better would it be for the pecuniary interests of the teacher. It would, in his opinion, deprive the teachers of much public sympathy and support if the idea got abroad that it was in their interest, or through their representations, that the people of parishes and burghs were deprived of the exclusive management of the parish schools.
It was also said by some teachers that the wider area would afford a greater opportunity for promotion. That, however, was an entire mistake. Automatic promotion in an education district might, no doubt, give advancement to teachers whose abilities were of so mediocre a character as not 1254 otherwise to secure them promotion. On the other hand, the teacher of enterprise and ability might find that he required to wait for almost a lifetime for promotion in; his educational district and that it would probably not be much when it did come. There would necessarily be no promotion for the man at the top. At present, with a thousand school boards in existence, a teacher in any part of Scotland might apply for a vacancy in any other part, excepting perhaps in the ease of a few of the larger school boards which, being large, were kept strictly preserved, and which would still he preserved under the Bill. It was found, in practice, that educational talent found its way from the remote Highland parish to the great educational centres in the South. If, however, every educational district was to be kept as a preserve for the promotion of its own teachers, a teacher would necessarily find every other education district closed to him, unless, indeed, he began at the bottom and automatically worked his way up. Automatic promotion might benefit the inferior teacher, but it would spell ruin to the teacher of ability, who would be deprived of the usual incentive to push his work. School boards who were anxious to save the rates would, no doubt, welcome promotion within their district, as promotions could take place without increasing salaries, and simply involve the putting of a new teacher at the bottom of the list.
The wider area was further approved because it was said that the wider area would remove the teacher further from local influence, and protect a teacher against capricious dismissal. Lord Balfour of Burleigh, when Secretary for Scotland, made inquiries into cases of alleged capricious dismissal, with the result that, in his judgment, there were very few of the cases which could not be justified. Nearly all the employees in this country were subject to capricious dismissal on receiving the usual notice. It was a risk which every employee ran, and there was not likely to be much sympathy for teachers, under this head of complaint. It was difficult to see how a teacher's position could be comfortable, or the interest of education could be served, if he had not 1255 the good will and sympathy of the people of the locality. It was not practicable that an employer should, in every case, be called on to give reasons justifying every dismissal, even where very substantial reasons might exist. In the case of a school board, a teacher had a greater protection against capricious dismissal than in the case of a private employer of labour. There was first, the protection of the school board as a whole, a majority of whom must concur in the dismissal. Then, if harshly or unjustly treated, a teacher could enlist the sympathy of the parents which, worked up by the teachers' organisation, was more likely to be extended to the teacher (the individual sufferer) than to school board representatives. Probably, in most cases, the wider area would prove to the disadvantage of the teacher. Whilst parish school boards might bear with a teacher, and hesitate to dismiss owing to the local sympathy that might be evoked, a district school board would not have the same influences to fear; and the dismissal might take place oven although the school board representatives of the locality might unanimously vote against it. Of course, if the bad influences of a locality were removed from the teacher by the wider area, so might the good influences of the locality unavail when an increase of salary or other preferment was desired.
He had thus dealt at length with the objection said to be entertained by some teachers, but not, as he knew, by all teachers. He had not been able to discover any educational, or even financial, reason for abolishing the parish and burgh area and adopting a county or county district area which was quite unsuitable alike for primary and secondary education. There really could be, and ought to be, no real antagonism between the interest of the parents and the interest of the teachers. They had a common object, the education of the child, and the educational progress of the child would best be 1256 promoted by the hearty sympathy and cooperation of the parent with the teacher and the teaching. The removal of that sympathy and co-operation from school work could not make the teaching more pleasant for the teacher. There was one effect of the reduction of the number of school boards from 1,000 to 111, that the new school boards would be much stronger, and would be able to combine more easily against the teachers' combination. However, that was a matter which might be left to experience to settle. As a rule, changes did not work out to all the advantages which the promoters of the change expected. The evils of an existing system were ever present, for they were daily experienced, but the evils of a new system were not present to the mind, but had to be learned by experience. There was one point referred to by the Lord-Advocate regarding the grants given for education which the different local authorities were claiming to retain. When the discussion on this Bill was going on last year, Lord Dunedin, when Secretary for Scotland, stated that there were only two men in the House who understood these grants. Lord Dunedin referred to himself as one; and to him (Mr. Caldwell) as the other. He must say, he was not surprised at the imperfect statement which the Lord-Advocate made as to these grants. The subject was a somewhat complicated one, and he feared it would not be possible in the very few minutes left to explain the matter clearly. He would only say that prior to 1888 certain local grants-in-aid both for England and Scotland, appeared on the Estimates, and that in connection with the Local Government Legislation in 1888 a certain proportion of probate duty (now estate duty), and certain licences were transferred to Local Taxation Accounts, to which these grants were to be transferred, a further amount being added with the view of making personality contribute to local taxation. In the case of England, England's share was given wholly in relief of rates; but in the case of Scotland, Scotland's share (after providing for the Votes transferred) 1257 was wholly applied to the relief of school fees, and, with a further sum of £40,000 given in 1900, education in Scotland had been in receipt of a fee grant of 12s. per child fro m moneys which, in the case of England, went to relieve the rates. In 1892, when England got 10s. per child of a fee grant, Scotland, although provided with 12s. out of Scotch money, became entitled to an equivalent of a similar amount. Parliament considered that now was the time to recoup the local rating authorities for what, in the interest of education, they had given up in 1889, and, after making certain prior fixed charges, including £600,000 per annum for secondary education and £30,000 per annum for University education, the Act of 1892 directed the balance to be apportioned among the local rating authorities, who had been in receipt of it ever since. The amount of this balance was estimated at £182,000 this year, and increased with the school attendance. There was absolutely no justification for taking from local authorities any portion of that amount, but it was now on the stroke of midnight, and he did not mean to talk the Second Reading out.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for To-morrow.