§ MR. OSMOND WILLIAMS (Merionethshire)
said he feared that the putting into operation of this Act in Merioneth would lead to considerable trouble in the near future. He had hoped that a middle way of peace might have been found. Given men free from prejudice, such a way was not impossible; but the Board of Education preferred the heavy bludgeon of the new Act. The original communication received by the education committee from the Board of education did not give the opinion of the law officers of the Crown with regard to the legal point raised by the deputation which waited on Lord Londonderry, and which had previously been raised by Lord 364 Stanley of Alderley—viz., that the obligation of the local authority to maintain non-provided schools did not begin until the antecedent duty of managers to put their buildings in sufficient repair had been discharged. The contention of the Merionethshire Committee was that no liability rested upon them to discharge the claims made by managers of non-provided schools, owing to the failure of the management to make the repairs of the schoolhouses required by the committee. The Board of Education had advanced certain specific reasons for disregarding that contention. They were (1) That the committee applied for and received Parliamentary grants in respect to the non-provided schools, such grants being only payable with respect to schools which had complied with Section 7 of the Education Act of 1902. (2) That the county fund, throughout the period September 30th (the appointed day), 1903, and November 1st, 1904, had been applied to the maintenance of those schools. (3) That the secretary to the committee signed certain certificates to the effect that these schools had satisfied the conditions of Section 7 of the Education Act, 1902. The committee submitted 365 that in no instance had a certificate been signed, save a counter-signature, and that even if a counter-signature was, as the Board contended—but as the committee denied—equivalent to a certificate, that certificate did not state that the school satisfied the conditions of Section 7 of the Act of 1902, but Section 7 of the Act of 1870. The committee did not apply the county fund towards the maintenance of these schools, and it never had been so applied. The Board had been asked to state the ground on which they did not agree to the committee's contentions, but they had treated the committee with contempt and discourtesy. When the money was witheld from the three schools, the Board did not supply any information as to the items allowed or disallowed, but simply notified the sums they intended to pay. Surely before payment was made the committee should have had the opportunity of lodging objections. The Board asserted that the only action taken by the committee under Section 7 was before the Act came into operation, and was a report on the premises made simply for the information of the county council by the surveyors. But it was perfectly evident that the report was treated by the managers as sufficient notice. Indeed, the Board of Education received appeals against these requirements fully twelve months ago, and such appeals had been reported upon by the Board's officers. In face of these facts, he did not see how the Board could feel justified in supporting the technical objection made by the managers.
In the case of Llanellyn School, near Dolgelly, in which the Board had decided the action of the committee was not justified, the position of the schoolhouse was most unsuitable, the playground was inadequate and it was impossible to extend it. There was imminent danger to health caused by a polluted stream, the closets were disgraceful, their position bad, and the possibility of improving it nil; and it was impossible to light the premises satisfactorily. It was in these conditions that the education committee required the erection of a new school on a suitable site, and it was within their knowledge that the managers themselves, up to a very recent date, held identical 366 views as to the impossibility of repairing the building, and they instructed an architect to prepare plans for a new school. The committee contended that they were legally entitled to refuse to maintain such a school, and they ought to be told under what statutory powers the Board had decided that the refusal was not justified. There was a specific case in point—the Holywell School in Flintshire. There the local authority demanded that a new school should be built upon an entirely new site, and the Board of Education with great reluctance upheld the demand. The consequence would be that the Church managers would have to find about £5,000, and he saw it stated that they were not prepared to do anything of the kind. There were scores of schools in Wales in the same position, and if the local authority demanded new schools the Board would have to uphold them.
He wished to know why the Board of Education had withheld £2,400 when only £400 was due to the Church schools. As a matter of mere courtesy some explanation was due from them. They had paid out the money without checking the vouchers, and they had refused to let the education committee do so. The Board ignored the contention of this section with regard to the certificates, and he could only presume that it was because they were alive to the fact that they had made a mistake and had acted in a high-handed manner. He referred to the communication received from the Board at the opening of these proceedings, which stated that the arrears were in respect of the period prior to November 1st, 1904, and that it was not contended by them that the schools did not comply with Section 7 in the first instance, and that it was not open to them, as a ground for not maintaining the schools, to make the contention that they did not comply with that section now. The Board, therefore, saw no reason why steps should not be taken to refund the managers the expense incurred in maintaining the schools. That was a very significant declaration, and he regarded it as the death warrant of scores of Church schools in every Welsh county. If the Glamorganshire Committee, for instance, exercised its powers under Section 7 of the Act, it could at 367 its next meeting decline to recognise any of the Church schools in the county which had not complied with its demands. The local authorities in Wales had shown great consideration for the managers of Church schools in the difficulties in which they had been placed. Although notices had been given in a great many instances, they had been looked upon as a matter of form, and in many cases had been treated as a dead letter. Was it conceivable that this attitude of benevolent neutrality would continue towards the Church schools in other countries now that this attack had been made on Merioneth? It was only natural that peaceful forbearance should give way to active aggression.
There was a great deal more in this unhappy dispute than the triumph of Church or chapel, or the permanence of the Establishment. The rights of conscience were attacked when a man was made to pay for the teaching of dogma in which he did not believe; the liberty of the citizen was attacked when the refusal of a local authority to vote public money for sectarian purposes involved imprisonment; the Constitution was attacked when a Minister of the Crown deliberately forced upon an unwilling country an Act which the electors of that country had deliberately condemned. Burke had said that people were governed by a knowledge of their temper and a judicious management of it, and that in conflicts between the people and their rulers the presumption of right was at least equally in favour of the people. The people of Wales were to-day just as much in the right and the Government in the wrong as when Pym and Hampden made their protest against the payment of ship-money. Wales did not seek disorder. She was a law-abiding nationality, but when the will of a Bishop and the whim of a Premier presumed upon that characteristic, who would blame her if she defended those liberties to the utmost of her power. The setting of the Defaulting Authorities Act in operation against Merionethshire would produce an exhibition of national unity such as Wales had never shown before.
§ SIR ALFRED THOMAS (Glamorganshire, E.)
said he rose to second the 368 Motion of his hon. friend the Member for Merionethshire. So fully had his hon. friend gone into the question that it was not necessary for him to furnish further details, and he would confine himself to principles involved in the question. Beyond saying that his hon, friend's speech was worthy of the constituency represented by the late Mr. Thomas Ellis, his object was rather to show that his hon. friend had the support of all the Liberal Members of the Principality. The Government could not say that they were not warned as to what would be the result if they forced through the House such legislation as that contemplated by the Education Act of 1902. Nothing but disaster could follow. Indeed, it was not necessary for men with such brilliant parts and unique knowledge of their country to foretell what would be the result, any one with the most superficial knowledge of Wales and the Welsh people could come to no other conclusion from a measure that seemed to be specially framed for the purpose of driving the people into insurrection; and, as if to emphasise the gross blunder they had perpetrated, within some two years the Government found they had to bring in a Coercion Act to force the Welsh people to carry out that objectionable measure. Notwithstanding, he had hoped for better things even from the present Government.
The other evening in the debate on the vote of censure they were told that some ten counties in Ireland were proclaimed, and up to that time he understood the Crimes Act had not been put into force. More than that, they were told for some two years Ireland had enjoyed a tranquillity and prosperity not equalled in any like period since the Union, and they might ask Why? For the reason that the late Chief Secretary was wise enough to be guided by an Irish patriot. But, unfortunately for the Government, they had no Sir Antony MacDonnell in the Education Department, and he feared from what he had heard that afternoon that the benevolent influence he had wielded in the sister isle was withdrawn from that country. Should this be so, then all who were concerned for peace and good order in 369 that country could not but deeply regret so deplorable a circumstance. But for the moment, taking it that such a calamity had not befallen Ireland, they had to say that even if this Act had been administered in the same spirit as Irish affairs during the last two years they would not have heard of the Welsh revolt and the Defaulting Authorities Act. It was difficult to realise that the administrators of a great Empire should be so ignorant of the habits, customs and creeds of a little country whose border was within some 130 miles from the seat of Government. Indeed, they could not have been more ignorant of the people of a province in India or China. To imagine that authorities like the county councils of Wales, each with a large Liberal majority—and that was equivalent to saying large majorities of Nonconformists—would put into force an Act that outraged their feelings and consciences! They thought it was bad enough to pay money into the Exchequer, part of which was devoted to teach creeds from which they dissented; but when they were asked to levy rates on themselves, and still more on their friends, in order to pay for the teaching of those creeds, it was more than any reasonable man would expect. He would venture to assert that there was no Gentleman on the opposite side of the House but would view with contempt any such action on the part of men holding and professing the principles of Welsh Nonconformity.
They had to complain that no public inquiry, with the exception of the abortive inquiry held at Carmarthen, had been made into this very vexed question. The Government used to very freely use a tribunal that they had not heard much of lately—a Royal Commission. Now, if there was ever a justification for holding such an inquiry, this was one of them. Statistics proved that the Welsh people paid more per inhabitant for education than any one of the other portions of the United Kingdom, and, of the thirteen counties of the Principality, Merionethshire had been one of the most generous. And yet this was the county of all others that the Education Department had first put in default. This was the way the Government showed their appreciation of 370 the sacrifice the quarrymen of Festiniog and the peasantry of Merionethshire had made for higher, intermediate, and elementary education. He would wish to say, however strongly he resented the action of the Education Department, he hoped that the hon. Baronet would not understand that anything personal was intended to one whom they all respected. Indeed, he very much regretted that the hon. Baronet had to play the part of "Shylock" in this educational drama. But he wished to warn him and the Government, if they were determined to extract this "pound of flesh" from the Welsh people, they would have to be more dextrous' than they had hitherto proved themselves to be if they did so without drawing one drop of blood.
He would conclude as he began, with, saying that he had hoped the Government would have been able to carry on elementary education in Wales without having recourse to coercion. And he believed that would have been possible if the hon. Baronet had been advised by those who were competent to rightly understand the gravity of the situation in Wales. To put such legislation as the Defaulting Authorities Act into force in the Principality could not but be a most dangerous measure, and it must be obvious to all who knew Wales. But if the Government were determined to put into operation all the vindictive powers of the Defaulting Act, then, at least let them understand they did so after the most serious protest possible from the representatives of the Welsh people; and whatever might be the evil consequences of their action it would lie at the door of the present Administration.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn." —(Mr. Osmond Williams.)
§ MR. CRIPPS (Lancashire, Stretford)
said that no one regretted the religious dispute under the Education Act more than he did, though it showed among the various Parties and creeds a strong sense of the real importance of religion and the rights of conscience in our education system. What he wanted was if possible to bring about some means by which those who had strong feelings on this 371 question—Nonconformist, Church of England, or any other denomination—should have the right and opportunity of bringing up their children in the national schools as far as possible in the denomination to which their parents adhered. It was from that point of view that he would deal with the arguments brought forward by the hon. Member who proposed the Motion. He wanted to say a word from the Church point of view. He did not believe there would be any difficulty in putting in force all the principles to which the hon. Member for Merioneth had particularly alluded.
The first question, the hon. Member had said, was right of conscience. Undoubtedly right of conscience ought not only to be guarded but safeguarded in every possible way in regard to the question of education. But how were they to do it? The great interference with the right of conscience—the right of parents to bring up their children in the denomination they selected—arose from the maintenance of the Cowper-Temple clause. There was no clause in the whole course of the Education Act which so much really interfered with the right of conscience as the clause which prohibited a child from being taught the religion of the denomination which the parents might desire in the elementary schools. Why not have a system of denominational education both in provided and non-provided schools, so that every child might be brought up in the religion which its parent desired? That was what he called giving due regard to the right of conscience. It had never been the Church Party that had objected to that. On the contrary, the Church Party in that House had stated constantly that their desire was not to exclude religious education, and that it was not to have the exclusive right of education in the non-provided schools. But religious education was such a source of friction that they could not always carry out what they desired. Let all schools, if they liked, go on a common basis, and let there be the right of entry to any denomination either to provided or non-provided schools. Wherever there were two or three children whose parents desired a particular form of denominational edu- 372 cation there ought to be facilities under which that form of denominational education should be given.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
We actually offered what the hon. and learned Member suggests to Merionethshire, and it was refused by the clergy.
§ MR. CRIPPS
said that Churchmen had often offered such a system if it were given a general application; but it had been defeated because the Nonconformists would not give up that most sectarian of all provisions, the Cowper-Temple clause. He himself believed that there ought to be this common right of entry. He did not believe the difficulty came from the Church of England at all. It was in the direction he had indicated, and that direction only, that the religious difficulty could be settled. He would appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite on this point. Every true lover of denominational education must wish the right of conscience to be extended as widely as possible. He wished to ensure in regard to Anglican children that they should have the opportunity of receiving Anglican education. The only way to get rid of the religious difficulty was not to exclude religious education, but to give it the widest possible basis, so that every denomination should have in regard to its own children equal and fair opportunity. The noble Lord the Member for Greenwich and other hon. Members had often expressed themselves in favour of a settlement of the religious difficulty on that basis.
The second point made by the hon. Member who moved the Resolution was as to the liberty of the subject. What did he mean by that? There might be many laws with which they were not in agreement, and if a man had a conscientious objection, if he preferred the penalty of the law to obedience to the law, he was not one of those who would find fault with that action. He thought there were many circumstances in which a man was bound to do it. If he had a serious conscientious objection he was bound to act according to the dictates of conscience, taking his chance of whatever penalties might follow. But 373 the question here was a much wider proposition. He thought there should be no general liberty given to citizens to disobey the law. Exactly the same principle should apply to education as to any other subject. That was exactly what he said the other night about East Ham. Although an individual might have a conscientious objection a local authority was not justified in taking such action as many local authorities had taken in this matter. It would tend to greater illegality, and, therefore, to less liberty, because legality and liberty must always go hand in hand. The hon. Member for Merionethshire said that the Act was unconstitutional and made some harsh remarks about the Prime Minister and the Bishops.
§ MR. CRIPPS
said he would withdraw the word "harsh." They would never be able to rely on a body which had to carry out Governmental duties if it was to be allowed to judge whether an Act was constitutional or not. As long as it was an Act it must be accepted for the purposes of administration, and as one which local authorities must and ought to obey. He did not understand the hon. Member to contend that the Act was unconstitutional in the wider sense because it had been enacted in a constitutional manner. If they were going to allow anyone to call in question an Act after it had been passed, and allow the right to disobey it, he did not believe there was a single Member of the House who would not find some Act of Parliament with which he thoroughly disagreed, and who, therefore, according to the doctrine put forward by the hon. Member, would find himself justified in acting in an illegal manner. The application of such a principle was worse in education than in other matters, because the children suffered. By all means let the local authority give notice to schools to effect necessary repairs; but it was grossly unfair not to give such schools time to comply with the notice. He was afraid that the real question here was not these minor matters, but the old dispute as regards religious matters, 374 and he earnestly commended to the House the view that the only possible fair solution was not to seek to exclude religion in a spirit of mutual jealousy, but, on the contrary, by a spirit of mutual tolerance to spread denominational education and to give fair and equal opportunities as far as they could to every school, whether provided or not. In order to do this they must repeal the Cowper-Temple Clause which at the present time stood in the way of any fair system of general denominational education.
MR. BRYNMOR JONES (Swansea District)
said he had listened to the observations of his hon. and learned friend with great interest. It appeared to him that the first part of his speech was directed to a defence of the Education Act of 1902 and not to the Motion before the House. What was the question which his hon. friend the Member for Merionethshire had obtained leave to call attention to as a definite matter of urgent public importance? It was the fact, if they rightly interpreted certain correspondence, that the Board of Education, and the education committee for the county of Merioneth, had put into operation the Education (Local Authority Default Act), 1904. He believed that they had done so. In order to raise what he thought were the relevant questions for the consideration of the House that night he was going to lay down certain facts which he had gathered, and to inquire whether the acts he complained of were or were not legally done—whether in regard to these facts the Board of Education had acted legally. He understood that the Board of Education had deducted £364 from the Parliamentary grants due in the ordinary course for the purposes of elementary education in Merionethshire. The total grants amounted to £452. This sum became due on May 1st, and the Board of Education sent £88 to the treasurer of the County Council of Merioneth, announcing that they had applied the balance to five non-provided schools in the county. The question whether the Board had acted rightly in so doing must depend upon whether the local education authority was or was not in 375 default. The local education authority, who acted under a scheme in accordance with Section 7 of the Act of 1902, declared that they were not in default, and that these five non-provided schools were not schools in respect to which the conditions of Section 7 of the Act had ever been fulfilled since the appointed day. His hon. and learned friend the Member for the Stretford Division had either not recently read, or had entirely forgotten, what the section said. Section 7 was probably the clearest and the least ambiguous section in the whole Act of 1902. What did it begin by saying in regard so the county council? It said—The local education authority shall maintain and keep efficient all public elementary schools within their area which are necessary.That was clear enough. Public elementary schools were defined in other Acts of Parliament, and everybody knew what a public elementary school meant. Then the section went on to say—And have the control of all expenditure required for that purpose, other than expenditure for which, under this Act, provision is to be made by the managers, but in the case of a school not provided by them only so long as the following conditions and provisions are complied with.Then there were a large number of conditions set out. His hon. and learned friend talked about notice of repair, but there was not a word about notice of repair in any of the conditions. He did not know where the hon. Member got these words unless it was from a diocesan conference. One of the conditions was stated in sub-section (d) and was in the following terms—The managers of the school shall provide the schoolhouse free of any charge, except for the teacher's dwelling-house (if any), to the local education authority for use as a public elementary school, and shall, out of funds provided by them, keep the school in good repair, and make such alterations and improvement in the buildings as may be reasonably required by the local education authority, provided that such damage as the local authority consider to be due to fair wear and tear in the use of any room in the schoolhouse for the purpose of a public elementary school shall be made good by the local education authority.No notice was required. It did not need any great legal knowledge in order to interpret that sub-section. If on 376 the morning of the appointed day the schoolhouse was not in repair the local education authority had absolutely no duty towards a non-provided school at all, and if the school was in good repair on the appointed day, and it was allowed by the managers to fall out of repair afterwards, any obligation the local education authority had ceased automatically in accordance with the plain interpretation of this Act of Parliament. He thought the hon. and learned Gentleman was endeavouring to confuse the mind of the House in regard to the two distinct conditions contained in Sub-section (d). Quite apart from the question of good repair, a local education authority might go and look at a schoolhouse and say, "We do not think this a fit and proper house for an elementary school, and we are going to demand that you shall make such alterations and improvements as we think reasonable." That was exactly what had been done if it were said that notice was required on the question of repairs. It so happened that the committee in this case was so careful that before the appointed day they had actually, at their own expense, taken the trouble to investigate the conditions of every non-provided schoolhouse in Merionethshire, and, in his opinion, so far from being in default in the matter they were a little over-zealous.
§ MR. DUKE (Plymouth)
Will the hon. and learned Gentleman say whether in fact the local education authority required any board of managers to execute any repairs or alterations?
MR. BRYNMOR JONES
said he believed that some had become provided schools, and that there were now only twenty-one non-provided schools. But in regard to every one of those, before the appointed day surveyors and architects, appointed by the local education authority at their expense, went over the 377 schools, and not only gave to each body of managers a specification, not of the required repairs, but of defects in the structure, but gave notice what they thought would be reasonable alterations and improvements. His hon. friend the Secretary to the Board of Education, he thought, must have many letters of appeal from managers of non-provided schools in regard to this matter.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE BOARD OF EDUCATION (Sir WILLIAM ANSON, Oxford University)
Not so during that period.
MR. BRYNMOR JONES
said that that led up exactly to his next point. He had the honour to place the construction of Section 7 of the Act of 1902 which he had just given before Lord Londonderry and the hon. Baronet the Secretary to the Board of Education at a meeting upstairs, and it was also put by the clerk to the county council in his reply to the first threatening letter which was written by the Board of Education. Their contention was that unless on the appointed day a non-less the managers of the non-provided school complied with the reasonable requirements of the county council committee on education in regard to alterations or improvements, no obligation attached to the county council. That was a perfectly clear contention, and although the hon. Member for Stretford advanced a different view that night, that contention was not contradicted by the Board of Education. The reply dated March 31st, 1905, was—Sir,—Adverting to previous correspondence respecting the claims made upon your authority by the managers of voluntary schools in the county of Merioneth, I am to say that the Board or Education regret that no satisfactory explanation of the matters in question has been offered on behalf of the authority, as required in the Board's previous letter.No contradiction of the previous proposition, definite, fairly urged, and leading up to the demand which he made on behalf of the committee for a fair and impartial aibitration—
MR. BRYNMOR JONES
said that the proposition was that the Board of Education were misconstruing the Act of Parliament; that they did not under-stand what the meaning of the words "so long as" was. The letter, which was signed by Mr. Kingsford, then went on to lay down what he thought the hon. and learned Baronet would greatly regret to affirm either in that House or in a Court of justice. It reminded those to whom it was addressed that the expenses in question were in respect of the period to November 1st, 1904, and—That the reason, and the only reason, given by your authority during that period for not adequately maintaining these schools was a resolution of your county council not to provide any funds from local rates towards the maintenance of voluntary schools. It was contended by your authority during that periodthe letter continued—that these schools did not comply with Section 7, 1 D, of the Act of 1902, and that they could not, therefore, in their view legally be maintained. On the contrary, you applied for and received the Parliamentary grants in respect of these schools.Now, he would ask the hon. and learned Baronet, who was a great lawyer and the author of a book on contracts and another on the law and custom of the Constitution, which were in well-deserved reverence by the profession to which he belonged, whether he would maintain that the doctrine of waiver applied to a public rate-levying and rate-controlling authority? Would the hon. Baronet assert that there was any privity of contract between the county council created under the Act of 1888, the Board of Education, and the managers of non-provided schools? He understood that the hon. Baronet disclaimed that there was. He quite expected that so great an authority would not answer the question in a sense contrary to that which he was submitting to the House. What was the position? How could this public rating authority waive any condition laid down in an Act of Parliament? But if the county council of Merioneth did that—supposing the present county council resolved that the schoolhouses of non-provided schools were not in good repair, and applied the ratepayers' 379 money to put them in good condition— would the hon. Baronet say that that would be a good and legal act? Then why should not the hon. Baronet allow the point to be submitted to a Court of justice? However, he would not persue this process of cross-examination with the hon. Baronet. Their contention was that they were not in default, and the correspondence that had taken place showed that the Board of Education had entirely misinterpreted the Act of Parliament so far as Section 7 was concerned.
Turning from the question whether there was or was not default, he would like to tell the Government that they were now face to face with the problems which hon. Members on that side of the House warned them about in 1902 and 1903. These county councils were corporations, and corporations had played a very great part in the history of this country. Indeed, nobody knew better than the hon. Baronet that that was true. There was once a Government that tried to destroy the City of London, and they sent all sorts of learned counsel to the Courts, and they ultimately got a writ of quo warranto, but in the very long report in the State trials the reporter added a note to this effect—It does not appear that this writ was ever actually executed.It never was executed in the City of London, and before three years had gone by the revolution of 1688 had taken place. [Ironical MINISTERIAL laughter.] All right; they wanted another revolution in Wales, and perhaps before three years were out the hon. Baronet would be very sorry he had ever entered into this disputation with the county of Merioneth. He begged to support the Motion.
§ *MR. DUKE
said that if there was not so much talk about insurrection it would be much easier for the County Council of Merioneth and the managers of the non-provided schools to settle the matter between them. Instead of reading Section 7 of the Act of 1902, and trying to understand it and apply it, hon. Gentlemen opposite appeared to be devoting their time to getting up a sort of 380 spurious insurrection in Wales, and in the House they talked about the sacred rights of conscience and the liberties of the subject. The hon. and learned Gentleman opposite threatened that there would be a revolution in Wales compared with which even the revolution of 1688 would be little more than a circumstance. Perhaps it could be avoided by a little consideration of the true position in Wales. The practical question was whether, unless the managers of a voluntary school did what the local authorities considered they ought to do, without any requisition as to repairs, all the grants could be stopped. Mere lawyers in matters of this kind looked at what would be the practical effect of the doctrine proposed. The contention would reduce the Act of 1902 to an absurdity. Repairs would not be done for want of money, and until they were done no money would be paid. Nobody dreamt when the Act was passed that there would be absolute harmony between the local authorities and the managers of voluntary schools, and therefore it was provided that, if any difference arose under Section 7, that difference should be decided by the Board of Education. That did not suit Gentlemen opposite. They wanted arbitrations or actions at law. Perhaps some of the ratepayers would be willing to spend their money in going to the Law Courts, but he was not sure that the minority, for whose protection the provision was required, would be willing to withdraw this matter from the plain mode of procedure that was laid down in the Act.
But the real matter in dispute was not the state of repair of certain schools; it lay much deeper. In June, 1903, there was a proposal before the County Council of Merioneth to make an education rate of 10d., but 1½d. was struck off because the council had decided not to support the non-provided schools. That was the beginning of the present agitation. In December, 1903, the county council met and adopted certain reoslutions, and the first of them was this—That this council adheres to its resolution passed at the meeting held in Dolgelly in June, 1903, not to levy a rate for the maintenance of non-provided schools within the county until381 —What? Until they were put in a state of repair? Nothing of the sort—until such schools are placed fully under popular control, and all religious tests imposed upon teachers are abolished.Now, they could meet hon. Members on that question. It was fought out in the discussion of the Act of 1902. [HON. MEMBERS on the OPPOSITION Benches: "No, closured."] It would have to be fought out again. And this was to be kept as a bone of contention, and if necessary the education of the children was to be sacrificed in order to fight out a secular battle in which hon. Gentlemen had been engaged under a profession of interest in education. [HON. MEMBERS on the OPPOSITION Benches: "Oh."] It was not a question of painting and papering and whitewashing, but hon. Gentlemen were using the question of the repair of these schools in order to bring under review the policy of the Act of 1902, and if possible to secure its repeal. The interests of education were being sacrificed for Party considerations.
§ MR. ELLIS GRIFFITH (Anglesey)
said the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down had spoken with a warmth of indignation not generally shown by him in debate in the House. It must be a matter of regret to those of them who represented Welsh constituencies that the few Tory Members from Wales had not availed themselves of the opportunity of discussing this question. He was sure that the pride of himself and his hon. friends in the fewness of their number would be much greater in the next Parliament. The hon. and learned Member for Plymouth, who had spoken with ostentatious ignorance—he thought it was an exhibition of humour— would not enable them to get nearer a settlement by suggesting that Welsh Members were fighting something under a profession of interest in education when they were really animated by some other motive.
The operation of the Act of 1902, and the subsequent Act of 1904, proved, in the main, what the Welsh Members told the Government at the time, that they could not in the long run legislate successfully against the wishes of the people they were legislating for. 382 Now, it must be remembered that the Default Act was a supplementary remedy. There was another remedy, that of mandamus. Why did not the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Education put a mandamus in operation? The hon. Baronet was not only a legislator, but an administrator, and surely he could do something to settle some of these differences of opinion between the local education authority and the managers of non-provided schools. There were five schools where the difficulty had arisen, and as he understood it the sum of £364 had been deducted in respect of those five schools. The average attendance thereat was 17, 24, 78, 56, and 14, making a total average attendance in the five schools of 189 children. The hon. Baronet had deducted nearly £2 per child for the children in average attendance. The total grant earned by those schools in 1902 was £385, therefore he had deducted a sum very nearly equal to the total sum earned in Government grants by those five schools in 1902. He ventured to ask whether the hon. Baronet was prepared to say that any one of those five schools was in a fit and proper state of repair, and would he say that all five were in a fit and proper state of repair, because he could not look at the Report without coming to the conclusion that they were in a grave state of want of repair. Would the hon. Baronet also say that the whole sum spent in 1902 on those five schools exceeded £15? They had taken a strong standpoint on this question. The Act operated harshly on all parties. It was a harsh thing to levy rates in order to support those schools, which were Church schools in management and in doctrine; these were Church schools so far as the managers were concerned, and yet were schools provided for the education of Nonconformist children, partly supported by rates paid by Nonconformist parents.
He asked the House to say that the Welsh people had taken a proper attitude—and what the Prime Minister would call a conscientious attitude—upon this question. By his speech of 15th July, 1904, the Prime Minister showed that he had formed a conscientious opinion on this question. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman had formed a 383 conscientious conviction upon it, but, in any event, why were they not also to be allowed conscientious opinions in the matter? He asked the Parliamentary Secretary to say that the local authority not only had no duty, but it had no right to maintain these school out of the rates. It was a waste of public money to support them. He would also ask him to say whether in each of these five schools it was not the fact that they were out of repair and required a great deal of alteration to make them fit for the children. The authorities were doing their best for the children by insisting that fit and proper schools should be provided for them. He submitted that they were under no obligation to maintain these schools until they had been put into a fit and proper state of repair, and that there had been no default on their part within the meaning of the Act.
§ LIEUT.-COLONEL PRYCE-JONES (Montgomery Boroughs)
said the matter at issue was a very small one. The minority in Wales had done its best to urge the majority in the county council to administer the Act fairly and justly, but they claimed that the majority had not administered it as they should have done. The question was whether the House of Commons was to be omnipotent or whether the county council majorities were to take its place. Only the other day a deputation waited on the Minister of Education, and the gist of the whole proceedings was to be found in the question asked by Lord Londonderry as to whether if the schools were put in a fit and proper state of repair the authorities would maintain them. He was sorry to say that his hon. friends opposite refused to give a definite answer to that question. The minority were perfectly prepared not to ask for rate-aid if their schools were not in reasonable repair. They were perfectly prepared to abide by the consequences of the Act, but he for one would never have sat silent while the Bill of 1902 passed through the House if he had had any idea that his hon. friends opposite would have taken the extreme course they had adopted in this matter. They knew they were in the minority and that they were in the hands of the majority, but they never dreamed that the majority would have tyrannized 384 over them as they had done. He appealed to the House of Commons to support the Churchmen and Nonconformists, the Conservatives and Liberals, of Wales who desired that the Act should be fairly, squarely, and justly administered in the Principality. He asked the House to uphold its omnipotence, its power, and its influence, and not to allow the county councils of Wales to set so bad an example to future legislation, and future reforms.
Throughout the debate on the Bill in 1902 hon. Members opposite fought hard for what they wanted, viz., control, and the Prime Minister and those who comprised the Government at that time stated that they were given control by the Bill. Hon. Members then would not allow that they had that power, but he appealed to the common sense and equity of the House, and asked whether sufficient control had not been given. The authorities could afford if they liked to administer the Act justly, and they could get almost everything they wanted because their control was so great. They had the power of putting in any number of pin-pricks, and all they had to do was to wait and to be tolerant in the matter. He, personally, was not in favour of any reform of the Education Act until a fair trial had been given to it. He asked hon. Members opposite whether in the event of their Party coming into power they would be in a better position than they enjoyed under the present Government. He asserted that their position would be more difficult because their Government would have the support of the Irish Members, whilst the Churchmen on their own side would be against them. He thanked the House for a fair hearing, and hoped for the sake of the House of Commons, and for the sake of justice, hon. Members would do all in their power to induce in a friendly way the Welsh county councils to administer the Act.
§ *SIR WILLIAM ANSON
said he certainly had no reason to complain of the tone in which the mover and seconder of the adjournment had introduced this subject. If he failed to reply to all the legal questions which were addressed to him by the hon. and learned Member for the Swansea Disrict it was because he deemed it inadvisable to try and answer 385 off-hand legal conundrums carefully prepared, of a somewhat recondite and academic character, and not specially bearing on the subject before them. He assured those who had spoken on the other side of the House that it was with no light heart, and not without a very grave sense of responsibility, that the Board of Education came to the conclusion that they must—in response to the demands of managers for the repayment to them of moneys which they had expended, and which ought to have been provided for them by the local education authority—repay to the managers the moneys so expended, and must make the corresponding deduction from the payment which would otherwise have been made to the local education authority. He had hoped that matters were settling down in Wales and that the Education Act was being administered throughout the Principality. Even in Merioneth itself they had had every reason to hope that the Act was being administered, and it had been since the late autumn of last year. The particular period to which the transactions under consideration referred was the period from the end of September, 1903, when the appointed day for Merioneth came, until the end of October, 1904. During that period arrears accumulated which should have been met by the local education authority, and for payment of which managers made constant and urgent appeals to the Board of Education.
A good deal had been said on the subject of repair, and he was asked whether they had had appeals from managers on that subject during the period in question. The correspondence which passed between the Board of Education and the local education authority during that period consisted simply of a reference to the local authority of the demands of managers for the maintenance due to them, and in response enclosures from the local education authority of resolutions which they had passed to the effect that they would raise no rate in order to assist in the maintenance of voluntary schools. During that time the Parliamentary grants were applied for and obtained by the local education authority in respect of those schools, but nothing else than the 386 amount of those grants—which when paid to the local authority passed at once into the general county funds—no other payments were made to the managers of voluntary schools in Merionethshire. Something had been said regarding the surveyors' reports. It was perfectly true that before the appointed day the County Council of Merioneth went to the expense of having all the schools, voluntary and council, surveyed throughout the area, and the report made by the surveyor to the local education authority was, in the case of these schools, forwarded to the managers of the schools, but no comment was made, no suggestion that any of the requirements should be put into effect, whether they were for alterations and improvements, or whether they were for repairs. There had been nothing throughout the whole period with which he was dealing to suggest that the subject of repairs was present to the mind of the local education authority as a reason for not maintaining the schools. It was not until December of last year that the local education authority, writing to the Board to say that they were now maintaining the schools, announced that they should hold themselves entitled to discontinue the maintenance if reasonable requirements for alterations and improvements were not carried into effect.
§ *SIR WILLIAM ANSON
said it was either the authority or their recognised agent. Nothing was then said about repairs. What they had before them during that time was the announcement by the local authority that it would raise no rate for the maintenance of voluntary schools. There was consequently a grave doubt in the minds of managers as to whether they would be maintained by the local authority. There was no request made through them either for repairs, or for alterations and improvements, as any condition of maintenance; and at the same time there was a demand, or rather a request, signed by the representative of the local education authority, to the Board of Education for the Parliamentary grants, which were only due if the 387 schools complied with the requirements of the Education Act under Section 7, 1B, by which managers were required to keep schools in good repair. The local authorities, therefore, admitted that these schools were in good repair. Without labouring a point of law as to whether the question of repairs was waived by the local authority, it seems a matter of honesty and common sense that if any one obtains money by certifying to the existence of certain facts he could not turn round afterwards and deny those facts. But as to the fact of repairs he was prepared to state, in contradiction, he was afraid, to what had been alleged by hon. Members on the other side of the House, that with two exceptions—one certainly and one doubtful—the voluntary schools throughout Merionethshire were in a fit state for the reception of children for the purposes of elementary education without risk to their health, comfort, or convenience. The exceptions were Festiniog, which was condemned, and the school near Llanelltyd, which was under consideration, for there was a question of whether the managers could carry out on the site of the school the repairs and alterations which would be necessary to turn it into a suitable school, or whether it would be better to abandon the school and have a new one erected on a new site.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
Was any notice given to the local authority that an inquiry was being instituted? This is the first we have heard if it.
§ *SIR WILLIAM ANSON
said the county council surveyor went round and surveyed the schools and reported on them, and when this question arose the Board of Education thought it desirable that they should satisfy themselves as to the condition of the schools, and they had done so. With regard to the Holy-well School in Flintshire, which had been referred to, all he could say was that the 388 Board of Education had been waiting for, he thought, months to get an answer from the local education authority to inquiries addressed to them as to what they thought desirable in respect of the school. He was bound to say that, as regarded the bulk of the council schools and of the voluntary schools in Merioneth, they were alike fit for the purposes of public elementary schools, although they were both susceptible of improvement. He had read the reports of the county surveyors, and they did not bear out the description given by the hon. Member for Anglesey. He had also statements of what had been done by managers of the schools during the past few months, and the schools were being put into a condition which would satisfy the requirements of the local education authority, and he was not aware that in every case the recommendations of the surveyor of the county council had been carried out in respect of the council schools. He was quite ready to admit, however, that Merioneth had done more than some Welsh local authorities in the way of putting its council schools into a decent and proper condition. The question of what was meant by good repair must surely be a matter of circumstance and of the particular requirements which the building was intended to meet. They must ask the plain question. Could the children remain for the necessary number of hours in the school in reasonable comfort and in conditions which were not detrimental to health? He was satisfied that in all the schools except the two to which he had referred the children could be taught without risk to their health, comfort, or convenience.
Then what were the rights of the local authority? The local education authority was clearly not entitled to say that because a window was broken or one or two tiles were off the roof, or the walls needed a coat of paint or a door was off its hinges the school must go off the list for Parliamentary grants. These things could be remedied in twenty-four hours or a few days, and reasonable notice must be given and time allowed. Was it possible to have two standards of good repair—one for voluntary schools and one for council schools? He was 389 afraid that some of the local authorities in Wales would be put to very considerable expense in the provision of new schools if the Board of Education were to treat their schools as they proposed to treat the voluntary schools. Were there two standards? He believed that in Merioneth itself some of the recommendations of the surveyor had not been carried out in the council schools. He turned to the neighbouring county of Denbigh, where the council surveyed the voluntary schools before the appointed day. It had not yet appointed anyone to survey the council schools. Last year the Board had a long discussion with the local authority and the managers of a public elementary voluntary school at Pontypridd. The Board of Education determined that some alterations must be carried out as required by the local authority, but recognised the great difficulty of doing so on the existing site of the school. He went to see the school himself, and came to the conclusion that, owing to its position, its structure, lighting, and ventilation, it was quite impossible to make a decent school of it, and that it must be abandoned. It was transferred to the council, and the first, thing the local authority did was to write to the Board of Education and request that the school should be allowed to remain in statu for two years.
In the county of Carnarvon there were at least twenty-five schools concerning which the Board of Education had been in communication from time to time with the local authority; and there were several schools which were seriously at fault in respect of repair and sanitary condition, and the Board of Education had the greatest difficulty in obtaining any attention from the local education authority concerned in respect of these schools. He would give an account of one case. The inspector having reported offices to be offensive, the playground unfit for drilling exercises, unsatisfactory ventilation in girls' cloak-room and lighting of infants' room, signs of damp on school walls, and minor defects, the Board inquired on January 27th, 1905, of the county council what steps they were taking, but had received no reply. In a second case strictures on the premises had been passed in inspector's 390 reports for the last few years. In 1902 he reported that another class-room was needed, and that the present partition was unsatisfactory for purposes of lighting and supervision and needed alteration, that rooms were insufficiently lighted, walls damp, and the cloakroom not ventilated. These remarks were repeated in October, 1904, and on January 25th, 1905, the Board requested information as to council's proposals. After six weeks delay they were informed that the council's architect had been instructed to prepare plans of the alterations necessary. In another case the inspector reported that the playground was in an unsatisfactory state, mud and water had collected at the entrance to the offices, and that a drain was not in good order. The Board requested that immediate steps should be taken, and after a delay of three weeks the local education authority replied that, owing to extreme pressure of work in their architect's department, they could not attend to this matter. In regard to another case under the control of the Carnarvon County Council, in his report for the year 1903 the county council were informed by the inspector that the ventilating and warming were unsatisfactory, while the floor was worn and the drains required attention. He referred to the report of the county surveyor for further defects in the premises and equipment. On November 24th, 1904, His Majesty's inspector reported that no steps had been taken to remedy the defects in the premises. On February 8th, 1905, the Board asked to be informed of the proposals of the county council for remedying these defects, and were told a month later that the decision of that body had been deferred to their next meeting. On March 10th the Board sent the county council a special report on the premises. No answer had been received. He would not follow the history of Carnarvonshire further, but he imight remind the hon. Member for Carnarvon the next time he indulged in rhetorical expressions about pure dogma and foul drains, that he must recollect that the absence of dogma was not inconsistent with very unsatisfactory sanitary conditions.
391 Was this outcry about repairs genuine. When Lord Londonderry asked the deputation from Merionethshire whether if the premises had been in good repair the school would have been maintained, no answer was given.
MR. BRYNMOR JONES
said the question was put to his client behind his back. He said one county council could not bind other county council any more than this Parliament was going to bind the next.
§ *SIR WILLIAM ANSON
said the question was addressed to a deputation representing the Merioneth County Council, and no answer was received. It was true that the deputation had the assistance of the hon. and learned Member, but that did not close their mouths altogether. He asked hon. Members opposite whether this was not a somewhat unworthy pretext for declining to carry out their legal obligations to maintain the voluntary schools. He did not desire to minimise the religious difficulty. He knew the Nonconformists considered they had grievances under the Education Act. But he asked them to remember that they were as nothing compared with the grievances suffered by many members of the English Church and all Roman Catholics before the Act of 1902. Did they seriously think that the cause of religion, or the cause of education, or even the cause of political Party, was served by making these innocent and unfortunate children the victims of their endeavour to starve out or to distress the voluntary schools?
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
said the hon. Baronet, in replying to an interpellation about county Merioneth, had entered into a long disquisition as to the state of the schools in the county of Carnarvon. Some hon. Members seemed to think that was relevant, and if it was relevant he was prepared with an answer, for he happened to know something of the county of Carnarvon, and he would tell the House exactly what the facts were. An impartial report was made by the surveyor on the state of the provided and non-provided schools, and for each class of schools £12,000 was required for 392 repairs. The county council instantly put in hand the repairs for their schools and at the last meeting which he attended they resolved to borrow £17,000 for the purpose, £5,000 more than the surveyor's estimate. Of course the money could not be laid out at once, but it had been raised. That was how the county council of Carnarvonshire carried out its legel obligations with regard to repairs. But what had the non-provided schools done? The managers of the non-provided schools had only spent £2,000, and the county council up to the present had not served them with notice and only discontinued one school, showing considerable indulgence to managers who had only carried out a sixth of the required repairs, and this indulgence had been requited by a sneer, without any information as to the facts. The other day an attack was made upon the action of the Carnarvonshire County Council by a rather foolish person at a Church bazaar, and instantly the Church members of the education committee got up and protested, saying that the county council had treated the Church schools exceedingly well. But after the way in which the hon. Baronet had spoken of their conduct they would know how much gratitude to expect for any indulgence they might show to the non-provided schools. However, that matter was absolutely irrelevant, as the question raised had reference to Merioneth.
The Board of Education had put into operation the Coercion Act to compel Merioneth to obey the law. How had the Board themselves obeyed the law? Eighteen months or two years ago notices were served on all the managers of non-provided schools in Merioneth that their school buildings were out of repair, and with the notices were particulars of the repairs and alterations demanded by the local education authority. The authority was not entitled to maintain the schools if they were out of repair, but the hon. Baronet had evaded hat question. It was a condition precedent in his own Act of Parliament. It was all very well to say it was a question of consideration and common-sense when it was a question of compelling managers to obey the law, but when it was a matter affecting Nonconformists 393 it was the law that had to be enforced. The default had not arisen in respect of what had happened in the last few months but in respect of the time when then took not the slightest steps to put their schools in repair. The hon. Baronet admitted that since November salaries had been paid. It was prior to November the default arose, and that was the time when no repairs were executed. The hon. Baronet said he was satisfied the schools were not out of repair, but how had he satisfied himself? How did the Board of Education carry out its own Act? It was a Court of Appeal, and should act as an impartial tribunal between the education authority and the managers, but how had it done this? In the absence of the local education authority, and without notice to surveyor or medical officer, the Board sent down Mr. Kingsford, a clerk in the Department, who sat in judgment on the reports of surveyor, architect, and medical officer, told the managers to take no notice of the requisitions of the education authority, and just indicated to them the sort of thing he considered satisfactory. He asked the Prime Minister whether that was his opinion of the way in which the Act should be administered. Did he think it satisfactory that a clerk should go down to give an opinion on an architectural question, or on the sanitary condition of a building, and reverse the decision of experts?
§ *SIR WILLIAM ANSON
said that Mr. Kingsford merely accompanied the inspector for convenience of more direct communication with the Board at Whitehall.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
asked how that improved matters. If there was a dispute between the local authority and the Board of Education on questions of structure and sanitation, was an inspector—not a sanitary inspector, but an inspector of schools—to decide? If that was the opinion of the Government, he was not surprised that local authorities were beginning to defy them. It simply showed that they were making no attempt at all to administer the Act fairly as between parties. The plain 394 truth was that the Board of Education themselves had taken no trouble to compel these managers to administer the Act. The Board had insisted upon a report on the provided schools, but they had never made any investigation with regard to the voluntary schools of Carnarvon. They were simply spies on the provided schools. He was not going to say, and never had said, that this was purely a question of repairs. The only point he put with regard to repairs was that, if the Board of Education were going to insist on local authorities administering the law, they must respect the law themselves. The Board of Education had received many reports in the past from their own inspectors as to the insanitary condition of voluntary schools in Carnarvonshire. They had taken no notice of them, but went on paying the grants. On the authority of the late Secretary to the Board of Education, they had it that many reports adverse to the schools were sent back to be re-written, and that had never been denied. And now the Board of Education lectured the local authorities in Wales and elsewhere on the duty of administering the law. He was waiting to see what they were going to do with regard to the schools in London.
After all, a much deeper question was involved. When the Act was being carried through the House the Prime Minister was warned of the difficulties he would have in getting the Act administered. He sapped the moral authority of the law by the conditions under which he carried it. No one had done more than he to bring the law and its administration into contempt in the last few years. He knew at the time that this Act was not demanded by the people. He had no mandate for carrying it. The people were repudiating it. On the authority of the Member for West Birmingham it was the most unpopular Act which this Government had passed, and that was saying a great deal. Was the Prime Minister in these circumstances not injuring the moral authority of the law by enforcing an Act of this kind in every particular when he knew perfectly well that, in the course of another year or two, the decision of this House of 395 Commons would be reversed upon the point? ["Oh."] Could any hon. Member deny that? Only last week the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham said it was a most unpopular Act, and attributed most of the defeats of the Government at by-elections to the feeling against it. He sincerely regretted the Prime Minister should not have shown a little more restraint with regard to that Act.
No one had been anxious to precipitate this strife in Wales. The responsible leaders of the Church Party did heir best to persuade the Board of Education not to press it, and the Board of Education had done so simply at the request of the more irresponsible section of their supporters in Wales. The hon. Member for the Montgomery Boroughs was the only Welsh Tory Member who had had the courage to speak in support of this Act, but even he did not appeal to the Government to put it into operation. Why had they done it? They knew perfectly well what would happen. If the Act were put into operation the local authority would be called upon to collect the deficiency. How were the local authority to collect the deficiency? Did the Government imagine that a Nonconformist county council like Merioneth were going to put their own friends in gaol on a matter in which they themselves felt strongly, and in regard to which they deeply sympathised with the conscientious convictions of their constituents? It was a thing which no Government ought to impose upon a local authority. If they did it there was but one course open to the local authorities. There would be no defiance of the law. The local authorities would simply say, "You must administer the Act yourself and collect the rates yourself." Would the Government do it? Certainly no county council in Wales would ever undertake so serious a responsibility. That was not a defiance of the law. It was simply a recognition that the Government was asking something at their hands which no Government had a right to ask of any municipality. No law in this country had any authority apart from the sanction of the people. ["Oh."] Did hon. Members really think that they could carry Acts of Parliament in defiance 396 of the people? ["Yes."] All he could say was that it was contrary to the spirit of the Constitution, and opposed to the liberties of the people, and he regretted that the Prime Minister should not have exercised his influence to restrain the Board of Education in this matter. It would have been only a matter of twelve months at the outside, but he had declined to do so.
The Prime Minister knew that he had no right to pass that Act after the declaration at the last election that Nonconformists could vote for the Government because nothing touching any controversial question, apart from South Africa, would be dealt with by them. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham, who alone got the Government elected, gave that pledge, and the people accepted it as a pledge given on behalf of the Government. The Prime Minister himself at Manchester and elsewhere declared that the South African War was the sole question before the electorate. Supposing the Leaders of the Opposition had gone to the country declaring that the misconduct of the war was the only question at issue, promising that no controversial questions should be dealt with, and then, having secured a majority, abolished the denominational schools, what would have been said by hon. Gentlemen opposite? He apologised to his right hon. friends for suggesting, even for the sake of argument, that they could be guilty of anything so thoroughly dishonourable. But the Government, having secured office by such tactics, had taken advantage of it to pass an Act of this kind, and were now trying to enforce it by coercion. He regretted that they should do it.
They were bringing all this trouble upon a county which had made more sacrifices for education than any other county in the Kingdom. Although it was one of the poorest counties in the Kingdom, it had spent more money per head of the population for education than any other. Its provision for secondary schools was higher than that of Prussia, and treble that of any other English county. Most of this had been done by voluntary contributions and by their rating themselves, and to taunt the people of Merioneth with disregarding the interests of the education 397 of the children was unworthy, and certainly such a taunt ought not to come from anybody who knew nothing about the circumstances. This county had made the most exemplary sacrifices for education, and it was the most law-abiding county in the whole of this kingdom. ["Oh, oh!"] There was no county in the country where the Judges had less to do when they came down there than the county of Merioneth. The present head of the Board of Education had begun to dictate to a county like Merioneth what it should do in respect of the education of its children. He ventured to say that the Government had done nothing more foolish, nothing more illegal, than the action it was now taking. [Cries of "Divide, divide!"] He submitted to hon. Members opposite that they were entitled to a full investigation of this case. The Government were putting into operation an Act which was not even debated in this House, and as they were not allowed to debate the Act, surely they were entitled to debate its administration. Even the hon. Baronet opposite had refused to answer some simple Questions which had been put to him, and he had been obliged to admit that these schools were out of repair during the whole time that the county was in default; and yet he was putting into operation this Act when he knew perfectly well that if there was any illegality it was in giving grants to those schools at all. It was useless appealing to the Government.
§ The hon. and learned Member for Stretford had asked for the suggestion of a compromise and of terms. The Welsh Members offered the identical terms which the hon. and learned Member had suggested that evening. The laity of the Church and the Bishop of the diocese were prepared to accept them, and only the clergy refused. Yet the Government were creating strife in a county without the slightest investigation of the circumstances. They asked for an inquiry, and what did they get? The Government sent down a clerk from the Board of Education to find out what was the minimum of repair that could be done. Had the Government ever inquired into the circumstances? Did they know the conditions? In one school, out of the entire total of children in attendance, only six were Church children, and in another school only three were Church children. In a third school there were only two Church children, and in a fourth there was not a single Church child at all. And yet there could not be any Nonconformists on the foundation management, they were disqualified like lunatics, bankrupts, and criminals. It was monstrous that an Act of this kind should be put into operation, and he was glad that his hon. friend had called the attention of the House to the question.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided.—Ayes, 113; Noes, 211. (Division List No. 159.)401
|Allen, Charles P.||Crooks, William||Harwood, George|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Davies, M. Vaughan (Cardigan||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H-|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)|
|Benn, John Williams||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Isaacs, Rufus Daniel|
|Brigg, John||Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Jacoby, James Alfred|
|Bright, Allan Heywood||Duncan, J. Hastings||Johnson, John|
|Brown, George M. (Edinburgh)||Edwards, Frank||Joicey, Sir James|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Ellice, Capt E C. (S. Andrw's Bghs||Jones, David Brynmor (Swansea|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Emmott, Alfred||Jones, Leif (Appleby)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.)|
|Burns, John||Eve, Harry Trelawney||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Burt, Thomas||Fenwick, Charles||Kitson, Sir James|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Lamont, Norman|
|Caldwell, James||Findlay, Alexauder (Lanark, N E||Langley, Batty|
|Cameron, Robert||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington)|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Levy, Maurice|
|Cawley, Frederick||Griffith, Ellis J.||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Lloyd-George, David|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Harcourt, Lewis||Lough, Thomas|
|Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Runciman, Walter||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Shackleton, David James||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|M'Crae, George||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan|
|M'Kenna, Reginald||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Mansfield, Horace Rendall||Shipman, Dr. John G.||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen||Slack, John Bamford||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Moulton, John Fletcher||Smith, Samuel (Flint)||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.|
|Norman, Henry||Soares, Ernest J.||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Nussey, Thomas Willans||Strachey, Sir Edward||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Parrott, William||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe||Wills, Arthur Walters (N. Dorset|
|Partington, Oswald||Tennant, Harold John||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.|
|Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Perks, Robert William||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Philipps, John Wynford||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr||Woodhouse, Sir J. T. (Huddersf'd|
|Rea, Russell||Toulmin, George|
|Riokett, J. Compton||Trevelyan, Charles Philips||TELLERS FOB THE AYES—Mr.|
|Robson, William Snowdon||Villiers, Ernest Amherst||Osmond Williams and Herbert Roberts.|
|Rose, Charles Day||Wallace, Robert|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Denny, Colonel||Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hn. Col. W.|
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry Eden||Dickson, Charles Scott||Kimber, Sir Henry|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Dimsdale, Rt. Hn. Sir Joseph C.||Lambton, Hn. Frederick Wm.|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Doughty, Sir George||Laurie, Lieut.-General|
|Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. Hugh O.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)|
|Arrol, Sir William||Duke, Henry Edward||Lawrence, Sir Joseph (Monm'th|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H.||Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir WilliamHart||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks N R|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Fellowes, Rt Hn. Ailwyn Edward||Lee, Arthur H (Hants, Fareham|
|Balcarres, Lord||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Balfour, Rt, Hn. A. J. (Manchr.||Finlay, Sir R. B. (InV'rn'ss B'ghs||Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham)|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey)||Fisher, William Hayes||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn Gerald W (Leeds||Fison, Frederick William||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Fitzroy, Hn. Edward Algernon||Lowe, Francis William|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Flower, Sir Ernest||Lowther, C. (Cumb. Eskdale)|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Forster, Henry William||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Bartley, Sir George C. T.||Galloway, William Johnson||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir Michael Hicks||Gardner, Ernest||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H.||Maconochie, A. W.|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M||Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Gordon, Hn. J. E (Elgin & Nairn||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinburgh W|
|Bingham, Lord||Gore, Hn. S. F. Ormsby-||Malcolm, Ian|
|Bond, Edward||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Manners, Lord Cecil|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith||Goschen, Hn. George Joachim||Maxwell, Rt. Hn. Sir H. E (Wigt'n|
|Bowles, Lt.-Col. H. F. (Middle'x||Graham, Henry Robert||Maxwell, W. J. H (Dumfriesshr.|
|Brassey, Albert||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Greene,Sir E. W. (B'ry S Edm'nds||Milvain, Thomas|
|Brown, Sir Alex. H. (Shropsh.)||Gretton, John||Montagu, G. (Huntington)|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants)|
|Bull, William James||Hambro, Charles Eric||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy|
|Butcher, John George||Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G (Midd'x||Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow)|
|Campbell J. H. M. (Dublin Univ.||Hamilton, Marqof (L'nd'nderry||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Carson, Rt. Hn. Sir Edw H.||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshr.||Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th)||Morrison, James Archibald|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Harris, Dr. Fredk. R. (Dulwich)||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer|
|Chamberlain, Rt Hn J. A. (Worc.||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Mount, William Arthur|
|Chapman, Edward||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Heath, Sir James (Staffords N W||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)|
|Coates, Edward Feetham||Heaton, John Henniker||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Cochrane, Hn. Thos. H. A. E.||Henderson, Sir A. (Stafford, W.)||Palmer, Sir Walter (Salisbury)|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robt. T.||Peel, Hn. Wm. Robert Wellesley|
|Colomb, Rt. Hn. Sir John C. R.||Hickman, Sir Alfred||Pemberton, John S. G.|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.||Hoare, Sir Samuel||Percy, Earl|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Hogg, Lindsay||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Hoult, Joseph||Plummer, Sir Walter R.|
|Crossley, Rt. Hn. Sir Savile||Howard, J. Kent (Faversham)||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Hunt, Rowland||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Davenport, William Bromley||Jeffreys, Rt. Hn. Arthur Fred||Purvis, Robert|
|Pym, C, Guy||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)||Welby, Lt., Col. ACE. (Taunton)|
|Randles, John S.||Spear, John Ward||Welby, Sir Chas. G. E. (Notts.)|
|Rankin, Sir James||Stanley, Hn. Arthur (Ormskirk||Whiteley, H. (Ashton and. Lyne|
|Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne||Stanley, Edw. James (Somerset)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Reid, James (Greenock)||Stanley, Rt. Hn. Lord (Lancs.)||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart||Willougbby de Eresby, Lord|
|Ridley, S. Forde||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Chas. Thomson||Stock, James Henry||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley||Wilson-Todd, Sir W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J G (Oxf'd Univ.||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Royds, Clement Molyneux||Thornton, Percy M.||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart|
|Rutherford, John (Lancashire)||Tomlinson, Sir Win. Edw. M.||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford||Tritton, Charles Ernest||Wylie, Alexander|
|Samuel, Sir Harry S (Limehouse||Tuff, Charles||Wyudham-Quin, Col. W. H.|
|Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles||Tuke, Sir John Batty||Younger, William|
|Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Tumour, Viscount|
|Sharpe, William Edward T.||Vincent, Col. SirC. E. H. (Sheffi'd||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir|
|Sinclair, Louis (Romford)||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)||Alexander Acland-Hood and Viscount Valentia.|
|Skewes-Cox, Thomas||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Smith,RtHnJ.Parker (Lanarks||Walrond. Rt. Hn. Sir William H|
Question put, and agreed to.