§ Class IV.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That a sum, not exceeding £6, 593, 646, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1908, for the salaries and expenses of the Board of Education, and of the various establishments connected there with, including grants for the building of new public elementary schools and sundry Grants in Aid. "
§ MR A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)
said it had been intimated by the Minister in charge that it was not his intention to begin the discussion by a statement of the education policy of the Government. Great inconvenience must ensue from following that course. One of the predecessors of the right hon. Gentleman in the Radical Government of 1894 stated that it was the invariable practice on the Education Vote for the Minister to make a statement upon the general policy of the Department; and, if the right hon. Gentleman would look through the records of years succeeding that declaration made by Mr. Acland, he would find that whenever the Education Vote was considered of sufficient importance to be made the first order of the day the invariable rule had been for the Minister to begin with a statement. If that ever were desirable it was doubly and trebly desirable on the present occasion, not simply because they were voting £13,000,000, as compared with only £6,000,000 dealt with by Mr. Acland, but because it was understood that the right hon. Gentleman was initiating in more than one important branch of his administration new procedure, which, in the absence of any explanation from the Minister in charge, seemed to be not only grossly unjust, but grossly unconstitutional. Let them take the item of £100, 000 which stood sixth on the list of items, and of which they 66 learned that it was a special grant for the building of new public elementary schools. He understood the view of the Government to be that there ought to be new elementary schools in certain unspecified parishes in certain unspecified counties where at present there were only single schools, and those of a denominational character. He had always admitted the single school area grievance. It existed equally where those who wished undenominational education could only find a denominational school and where those who desired denominational education could only find an undenominational school; and he would gladly relieve parents of this grievance, whatever their views as to the religious or non-religious education of their children. But the right hon. Gentleman's whole method of dealing with the situation seemed to him to be utterly wrong and utterly unconstitutional in more ways than one. When the last Government desired to assist schools suffering from what was justly called an intolerable strain, a Bill was introduced which practically did no more in regard to those schools than the right hon. Gentleman proposed to do by this Vote for the unspecified schools with which he proposed to deal. The opportunities of discussing this £100,000 would be limited to a portion of a single night's discussion, which would range over a variety of questions, for it was improbable that another night would be given to the Education Vote, whereas the Bill to which he referred took three days on the Second Reading, eighteen or nineteen days in Committee, and a day on the Third Reading—in all twenty-two days. The right hon. Gentleman proposed, in the course of one miscellaneous discussion, to deal with the whole of an analogous question, the only difference being that he proposed to make a subvention out of the money of the general taxpayers, many of whom might or might not approve of his policy, whereas the Bill of 1897 was definite and elaborate in its proposal and was exposed to the full fire of Parliamentary criticism. To reply that the discussion on the Appropriation Bill would afford an opportunity was really asking the House to deprive itself of one of its most valued privileges of devoting that occasion to a general survey of the Government's policy and criticism of its past conduct. It was impossible 67 on the Appropriation Bill to get the decision of the House as to the propriety of this item, for the only way would be to vote against the Second or Third Reading of the Appropriation Bill, a course which, if successful, would necessarily turn out the Government and cause great inconvenience to the administration if it did not bring it to a standstill. That was not nearly all. Perhaps the House was not fully aware that by the Act of 1870 it was distinctly laid down that no public money should be given for the erection or equipment of any elementary school, so that the Government now, by a Vote in Supply subsequently embodied in an Appropriation Bill, proposed to over-ride, without repealing, an explicit provision of an Act of Parliament.. He might have to ask the Chairman of Committees at some later stage to give his decision as to whether that was in order. Was it not obvious that it was the grossest violation of the ordinary practice and legitimate procedure of the House? It became worse when it was remembered that the Education Department were absolute masters of this £100,000, which they could use exactly as they liked, when they liked, and where they liked. If the Unionists had been in office and had put down a Vote in these terms, he took it that it would have been absolutely in the power of the then Minister of Education, the Member for Oxford University, as it would be in the power of the right hon. Gentleman himself, to use this money for building any kind of school. Nothing was laid down by statute limiting the use of the £100,000. They did not know whether it was going to Wales or to England, to the West Hiding of Yorkshire, or the county of Carnarvon. If the right hon. Gentleman bound himself by any Ministerial statement he could not bind his successors.
§ THE PRESIDENT of the BOARD of EDUCATION (Mr McKenna,) Monmouth, N.
said that an ample explanation had been given on the Consolidated Fund Bill.†
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
did not agree, and the dubious tone and language of the Attorney-General on that occasion was such as to show on what thin ice they† See (4) Debates, clxxi., 975–6; 978–82.68 stood, and how important was the constitutional problem the right hon. Gentleman had chosen thus recklessly to raise. He hoped the Prime Minister would consider all the consequences to which this precedent might lead when any future Government found itself in a position in which it was its duty to assist any class of school. It would not again find it to be its duty to go through all the formalities that were gone through in 1897. This simpler procedure, if sanctioned by the House under his œgis, must become a precedent for all time. That was the first point on which he thought the right hon. Gentleman should have given a full and frank explanation to the House, and he hoped he would either himself or through the mouth of his Law Officers tell the Committee what the position would be when the Appropriation Bill was pissed, including this £100,000 for primary elementary schools, while the Act of 1870 remained unrepealed. They would have an Act still in full vigour and force declaring that no public money be given to public elementary schools, while they would have passed an Act giving money to public elementary schools. Both Acts would be living and operative and would have to be taken into account in any proceedings that might be taken before the Courts. This would be the first occasion on which the House, knowing exactly what it was doing, put on the Statute-book an Act which left unrepealed another Act which was wholly inconsistent with its provisions. He now passed to the Vote, with the object of which, if administered impartially, he had great sympathy. He sympathised with any attempt to meet the wishes of the parents, whether they desired undenominational teaching or denominational teaching. His objection was not so much to the expenditure of £100,000 if it were to be impartially applied, but to the constitutional error which he thought the right hon. Gentleman had made, and the new course into which he was, wittingly or unwittingly, leading the House. He next came to two Votes as to which ho could not say that he sympathised with the right hon. Gentleman. He understood that the right hon. Gentleman had declared it as part of his policy to prevent any hostel being added to a training college—to prevent a denominational hostel being added 69 to an undenominational college or an undenominational hostel to a denominational college. The right hon. Gentleman had absolutely put his foot down on that as a fundamental part of his policy, and he understood that to be in direct contradiction of his immediate predecessor, the Chief Secretary for Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman had made that a question of policy, and in that he thought he was profoundly wrong. The right hon. Gentleman might say it was right, but could he say that of that part of his policy which practically deprived denominations which had built training colleges of the use of those colleges? It was not the first time that the right hon. Gentleman and his friends had first encouraged denominations to spend denominational money for some denominational object, and then turned round and appropriated the results of their liberality and public spirit and turned them to wholly different purposes. The right hon. Gentleman might not be able to agree that their objects were meritorious, but, at all events, these denominations, with encouragement from that House, had undertaken the whole cost of building training colleges. [MINISTERIAL cries of "No."] Yes, he thought the whole cost. At any rate, nobody could deny that they had borne by far the greater part of the cost. That was universally admitted. These training colleges fulfilled a function which was of absolutely vital importance, not from the denominational or religious educational point of view, but from the secular educational point of view. The Government now came forward and said, "We find this or that denomination has been zealous and public-spirited enough to build training colleges, primarily, of course, for those who agree with them in religion. Let us take them, or at all events make arrangements by which they can be taken and appropriated by those who differ from the intentions of the donors and subscribers, to whom the State owes a profound debt of gratitude and for whom we must have the warmest sympathy, respect, and regard. "He thought that was utterly wrong, and he would be tempted to dwell on it at greater length if there was not a worse case of Governmental intolerance and injustice. In some of the secondary schools which received a Government grant denominational teach- 70 ing was given, and in others it was not. The right hon. Gentleman proposed for the first time to differentiate between these schools and, without legislative authority, to penalise those which provided the education which was presumably desired by the parents of the children who went to them. But the Government recognised that a great many of these denominational schools, which were founded and worked by the generosity of individual benefactors and donors, were bound by the character of the trust deeds to give religious education of a certain type to meet the needs of the parents who held religion of that type. The right hon. Gentleman was by a kind of legislative inheritance the successor of the old Charity Commission, which in former times arranged the way in which these schools should carry on their work. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman had power to alter those arrangements, and he was bribing those denominational schools who preferred to adhere to the charter their trust deed settled for them —he was, on the authority of that House, bribing—or rather fining—these schools to abandon their trust deed in order that they might get a little more public money. He called that disgraceful. He knew nothing like it since the seventeenth century. The right hon. Gentleman literally and strictly, so far as he understood the matter, proposed to fine people for holding certain religious opinions, and he was not aware that that had been done since the seventeenth century. It rested with the present holders of office, who represented religious freedom as it was understood by Radicals, to make this new departure. He thought the folly of it was almost equal to the intolerable pity of it. Was it not obvious that, if the right hon. Gentleman, simply by manipulating the Votes, could fine those who held certain religious opinions, when a Minister for Education who held different opinions came into office, he could easily repay by another Vote all the arrears illegitimately withheld from these people by the right hon. Gentleman's Government? He trusted that kind of reversal of policy would never be rendered necessary by any such violent procedure as that he had spoken of. But if they were to have Committee of Supply used for purposes which violated every sound doctrine of justice and equality, if they were to have the proceedings in Committee of Supply used to 71 carry out these nefarious purposes, the same Committee of Supply, under different leaders and in different circum-stances, must undoubtedly be invoked to repair the injustices of their predecessors. He would gladly have withheld these remarks had the right hon. Gentleman followed the invariable practice and condescended to explain his policy, and perhaps justified it to the Committee. He could only speak from the necessarily imperfect information at his command; but the House would feel, and he thought the right hon. Gentleman would feel, that he could not longer withhold the desired information, which might have saved all this trouble. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would meet the request he made, in no hostile or factious spirit, that he should give the Committee his policy now and at once; but in order to make it clear he moved, he hoped only pro forma, to report Progress.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress; and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)
§ MR. McKENNA
said he could assure the right hon. Gentleman that in not following the usual practice of making a statement it was not with any intention of being discourteous, but solely with a view of saving time on a day on which they had an enormous amount of ground to cover. He had thought it better to hear what hon. Gentlemen had to say before making any observations. The right hon. Gentleman's speech was an exact illustration of his difficulty. The
§ two chief subjects to which he had referred were subjects to which, in stating the policy of the Board, he would have devoted very little time. In the first place, he had already fully explained the policy of the Board with regard to the £100,000 on the Vote on Account; and, secondly, they had fully debated the secondary regulations on a Motion made by one of his hon. friends. He read at that time to the House the regulations covering all the points which the right hon. Gentleman had raised. It was on that very ground that he thought it would be more convenient to hon. Members if he did not take up an hour or an hour and a half with a preliminary statement at that time of the day, and then again absorb a great deal of time later in answering criticisms. There was a further reason why he had taken this course. The regulations, whether for secondary schools or training colleges this year had prefatory memoranda which clearly stated the policy of the Board. His speech could only have been a repetition of those printed statements, and he appealed, therefore, to the Committee to support the view he had taken, that it was far better that he should be allowed an opportunity of hearing what might be the criticisms and points which he had not cleared up in those memoranda than that he should occupy the time of the House by making a speech now.
§ Question put.
§ The Committee divided: —Ayes, 97; Noes, 196. (Division List No. 275.)75
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Fardell, Sir T. George|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex. F||Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Fell, Arthur|
|Ambrose, Robert||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Wore.||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Fletcher, J. S.|
|Anstruther-Gray. Major||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Flynn, James Christopher|
|Ashley, W. W.||Collings, Rt. Hn. J (Birmingham||Gilhooly, James|
|Balcarres, Lord||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Ginnell, L.|
|Balfour, Rt Hn. A. J. (City Lond.)||Corbett, T. L (Down, North)||Gretton, John|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Courthope, G. Loyd||Gwynn, Stephen Lucia's|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Craig, Charles Curtis(Antrim, S.)||Halpin, J.|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Craik, Sir Henry||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford|
|Boland, John||Crean, Eugene||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Cullinan, J.||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Burke, E. Haviland.||Devlin, Joseph||Heaton, John Henniker|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Donelan, Captain A.||Hills, J. W.|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Duffy, William J.||Hogan, Michael|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan||Hunt, Rowland|
|Cave, George||Faber, George Denison (York)||Joyce, Michael|
|Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.||Morpeth, Viscount||Sheehy, David|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hon. Col. W.||Nolan, Joseph||Sheffield. Sir Berkeley George D.|
|Kilbride, Denis||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Kimber, Sir Henry||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N||Starkey, John R.|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||O'Malley, William||Staveley-Hill. Henry (Staff'sh.|
|Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Power, Patrick Joseph||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Long, Rt, Hn. Walter (Dublin, S)||Randles, Sir John Scurrah||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Lowe, Sir Francis William||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Lundon, W.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Young, Samuel|
|MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Redmond, William (Clare)||Younger, George|
|M'Killop, W.||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Roche, Augustine (Cork)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Meagher, Michael||Roche, John (Galway, East)||Viscount Valentia and Mr.|
|Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert||Forster.|
|Mooney, J. J.||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Evans, Samuel T.||Mansfield, H. Rendall (Lincoln|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Everett, R. Lacey||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Fenwick, Charles||Massie, J.|
|Alden, Percy||Ferens, T. R.||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Armitage, R.||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Menzies, Walter|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Mond, A.|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Freeman-Thomas, Freeman.||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Baring. Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Fuller, John Michael F.||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)|
|Barlow. Sir John E. (Somerset)||Fullerton, Hugh||Morse, L. L.|
|Belloc, Hilaire Joseph Peter R.||Gill, A. H.||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Benn, W. (T'w'rHamlets. S. Geo.||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Murray, James|
|Bethell. Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Nicholls, George|
|Branch, James||Grant, Corrie||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster|
|Brigg, John||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Bright, J. A.||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||ODonnell, C. J. (Walworth)|
|Brodie, H. C.||Hart-Davies, T.||O'Grady, J.|
|Brunner. J. F. L. (Lanes., Leigh)||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Partington, Oswald|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Hazel, Dr. A. E.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Burnyeat, W. J. D.||Helme, Norval Watson||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Burt, Rt, Hon. Thomas||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Pullar, Sir Robert|
|Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||Radford, G. H.|
|Byles, William Pollard||Higham, John Sharp||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Cameron, Robert||Holt, Richard Durning||Raphael, Herbert H.|
|Campbell- Bannerman, Sir H.||Hope, W. Bateman(Somerset, N.||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Horniman, Emslie John||Rees, J. D.|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Hudson, Walter||Richardson, A.|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Idris, T. H. W.||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Clough, William||Jenkins, J.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Coats, Sir T. Glen (Renfrew, W.)||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Robertson, Sir G. Scott(Bradford|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Jowett, F. W.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Cox, Harold||Kearley, Hudson E.||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Kekewich, Sir George||Rowlands, J.|
|Cremer, Sir William Randal||Kelley, George D.||Runciman, Walter|
|Crombie, John William||Laidlaw, Robert||Russell, T. W.|
|Crossley, William J.||Lamb, Edmund G. (Leominster||Rutherford, V. H. (Brenftord)|
|Curran, Peter Francis||Lambert, George||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.||Lamont, Norman||Scarisbrick, T. T. L.|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Sears, J. E.|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan||Lea, Hugh Cecil (St. Pancras, E.||Seely, Major J. B.|
|Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Lehmann, R. C.||Shackleton, David James|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)|
|Dewar. Sir J. A. (Inverness-sh.)||Lewis, John Herbert||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Lough, Thomas||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Lynch, H. B.||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Dunne. Major E. Martin (WalsaIl||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Snowden, P.|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk B'ghs||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Elibank, Master of||M'Crae, George||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Erskine, David C.||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.)|
|Steadman, W. C.||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Stewart, Halley (Greenock)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton||Williamson, A.|
|Strachey, Sir Edward||Wardle, George J.||Wilson, John (Druham, Mid)|
|Summerbell, T.||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.||Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbrough)|
|Sutherland, J. E.||Watt, Henry A.||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury||Weir, James Galloway||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)||Whitbread, Howard||Winfrey, R.|
|Tomkinson, James||White, George (Norfolk)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Toulmin, George||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Ure, Alexander||White, Luke (York, E. R.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES. Mr.|
|Walker, H. De R, (Leicester)||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)||Whiteley and Mr. J. A.|
|Walsh, Stephen||Wiles, Thomas||Pease.|
|Walters, John Tudor||Wilkie, Alexander|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ *SIR WILLIAM ANSON (Oxford University)
said the President of the Board of Education had departed from a custom which was very convenient to the House, and which he had always himself observed when he was responsible for the Department. Their prefatory memoranda were issued in the ordinary course, but, admirable as they were as literary compositions, they were not sufficient to elucidate points which they expected to hear fully explained by the Minister. The most serious matter which they had to discuss was one which the President said he would dismiss in a very few words, namely, the exercise of the power of regulation to legislate, and to legislate so as to impose religious disabilities. The money which Parliament voted for secondary schools and training colleges was voted to promote secondary education and the training of teachers for public elementary schools. It was not meant to enable the President of the Board of Education to advance his own religious or political opinions, and in that way to divert or alter the character of schools and colleges, the money for the encouragement of which was entrusted to him for the time being. He would further say that wherever religious disabilities or religious requirements were imposed on the use of Parliamentary Grants for the provision of educational institutions, those requirements had been imposed by Act of Parliament. The Cowper-Temple Clause, which was Clause 14 of the Act of 1870, forbade catechisms and formularies distinctive of religious denominations to be used in any school provided by the local authority. Clause 4 of the Act of 1902 forbade local authorities to provide any schools except subject to the provisions of the Cowper-Temple 76 Clause. That was really to protect the local authorities from the possible discord which would arise if they were able to provide schools, elementary or secondary, for one denomination or another. Under the Charity Trusts Act, and the Endowed Schools Act, the greatest care was taken that existing denominational institutes should be protected in the framing of schemes. Clause 19 of the Endowed Schools Act declared that its provisions were not to affect any educational endowment in which the scholars were required to learn or be instructed in the formulae of a particular denomination, and no scheme was to make any provision as to religious instruction of the scholars except with the consent of the governing body. To return to Clause 4 of the Act of 1902, it expressly forbade local authorities in giving money to existing institutions, schools, colleges or hostels other than elementary and not provided by them, to require that any particular religious teaching should or should not be given or that any particular religious observances should or should not be kept. These were the statutory provisions, and they seemed to him to tie the hands of the Board, if it wished to carry out the spirit of those statutes, from interfering with the religious instruction in schools except for the purpose of carrying out the express provisions of the Act. The Board of Education, under whatever rule it had been, whether Radical or Conservative, had always kept themselves absolutely clear of religious questions in the apportionment of grants. What were the Board doing now? They were imposing by regulations a Cowper-Temple Clause on secondary schools and training colleges, and they were doing this by departmental documents which had not to lie on the Table of the House. Not 77 only that, but they were using their powers as Charity Commissioners to compel or induce the governors of secondary schools to bring up the trust deeds or schemes or instruments of foundation to the Board to get them altered, so as to introduce the Cowper-Temple Clause and various other religious disabilities under pain of the loss of part of the grant offered by the Board of Education. The Board of Education were going to do what local authorities were expressly forbidden from doing, namely, to differentiate between one school and another on religious grounds. Local authorities were forbidden to require that any form of religious instruction should or should not be given or observances followed, but the Board of Education were going to do this, and why? Was there any religious difficulty in the secondary schools? Had any parents complained? Had local authorities complained? They had clamoured for larger representation, but had they alleged that there was any religious difficulty? He challenged the President of the Board of Education to point out any case in which any religious difficulty had arisen in secondary schools. The right hon. Gentleman was doing this to gratify his Nonconformist supporters, and not to benefit education or the students. It was being done not at the invitation of the local authorities but to satisfy the clamour of the Nonconformist clique who were largely represented in the House of Commons. What was the present situation in regard to the training colleges? How far were the Board of Education and the country indebted to the denominations for the provision of institutions for the training of teachers? There were at this moment fifty-one recognised training colleges. How many of them were undenominational? Only ten were undenominational, thirty-two were provided by the Church of England, seven by the Roman Catholics, and two by the Wesleyans. The Government, it was true, provided the maintenance, but what was the good of that if there was not a college for the students to go to? Who provided the colleges? The denominations were the first in the field, otherwise there would have been very few colleges for training teachers.
§ *SIR WILLIAM ANSON
No. There had not been any building grants since 1870. The hon. Member for Exeter would have done well to remember that a great many of those colleges had been built since 1870, and those built before that date must have cost a large sum to repair and equip for modern requirements.
§ *SIR WILLIAM ANSON
said that if there was one thing more than another which was urgent in regard to elementary education it was to obtain a better supply of competent teachers. Now it was proposed that one source—the only source for a good many years—was to be cut off. What about the colleges now in existence? They were to be appropriated by persons who intended to frustrate the objects for which those colleges were built. At present the colleges selected their own students. The Board of Education had taken minute care— which was almost ludicrous when they came to read it—that the heads of the college were not to have any voice in the selection of the pupils. No application was to be received before a certain date, every application, as the letter was opened, was to be recorded and registered and open for the inspection of the Board of Education. If the student was not accepted in the order in which his application was opened the Board of Education would intervene, and the college would have to show cause why he had not been accepted, and might be mulcted in a considerable amount of the grant, or, for a second offence, refused recognition altogether. A mass of applications might be deliberately sent in by persons anxious to flood the college with Nonconformist students, and the letters would have to be opened and the students admitted in the order in which they were received. Many of those colleges were held under trust deeds which required that religious instruction of a particular kind should be given there. What would happen now? They might get 79 a Roman Catholic or a Church of England college filled with students who would alter the whole character of the college, who would decline to receive the religious instruction provided, or attend the religious observances for which the college was founded. They might get enough of this class of students to destroy the discipline of the college if not its entire character. Some of the colleges would not be able to receive the grants for the students who would not take the religious instruction and the college would very likely have to be closed in consequence. Nevertheless the teachers would have to be trained somewhere and the burden would fall upon the local education authority. In the past they had heard a good many eloquent speeches upon the great merits of the undenominational religious instruction given in the council schools. That teaching was very good of its kind, but it should not be forgotten that most of the teachers who gave that instruction had been trained in Church of England training colleges, and consequently, by adopting these regulations they would not merely affect the supply of teachers, but they would affect the character and quality of the religious teaching given in the elementary schools, because the students would no longer receive the religious instruction they had been accustomed to receive in the post. He understood the purport of the new regulations to be this, that a denominational hostel must not be attached to an undenominational training college. So that where a local authority did not desire to build a training college of its own but desired to use the training college established by a denomination, yet wished to build an hostel for the benefit of its own students, that hostel would no longer be recognised for grants. That seemed unjust on the face of it, and it was not in accord with the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor, who, speaking to a deputation last year, deliberately assured them that he recognised the desirability of having the two kinds of hostel, a denominational hostel in connection with an undenominational college, and vice versâ, and added that he would do all he could to see that these hostels had a fair chance. That was the policy of the Board last year, and he desired to know for what reason and to what extent 80 it had been changed. He hoped that the Committee would consider that this imposition of religious disabilities by the mere act of a Department, and contrary to the spirit of existing legislation, was not a matter to be dismissed in a few words by the President of the Board of Education. In regard to secondary schools, the Board required as one of the conditions of a grant that there should be a majority of representative governors. That would probably involve an alteration of the scheme, and it was another instance in which the Board of Education was using its powers as a dispenser of grants to bring the recipients of the grants within its grip, and to compel the governors to bring up their schemes for alteration under pain of losing half the grant. In this matter of local representation the local authorities had taken pretty good care of themselves. Why should the Board step in to help people who were perfectly well able to help themselves, and why should it insist that the local authority, when it had not built the school or contributed to its maintenance, should have a majority of representative governors, or else the school should only have half the grant to which it would otherwise be entitled? Was the Board altogether satisfied with the government of these schools by the local authority? On the contrary, it was quite clear that they had considerable grounds for dissatisfaction. It was stated that excessive powers of government were given to the organising secretary, that the schools were not really supervised by the local authority, and that the latter were apt to consider that the only instruction worth having was scientific and technical instruction. Then to impose, as the Board of Education was now doing, a hard and fast requirement that 25 per cent. of the places in secondary schools must be kept free for children from the elementary schools would risk the financial position of the secondary schools, would very likely lower their standard of teaching, and would not profit, but rather would very often fatigue and embarrass, the unfortunate children who were sent up to occupy these places. What was most needed was to provide schools suited to carry on and develop the work of the elementary school, not to send boys and girls from one school to another with no regard to suitableness or to the capacity of the child. He noticed that Wales 81 was excluded from the operation of the Code issued by the Board of Education. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would explain to what extent he considered himself responsible, under the new arrangement in regard to Wales, for the government of the elementary schools in Wales, and what Code would be applied to Wales. Was there any probability that the provision of this Code would be made to apply to Wales in the course of time? They knew that there were many burning questions in Wales as regarded elementary schools, and it was therefore of great importance to those interested in voluntary schools in Wales to know what the conditions were there. There was another matter which might in some localities inflict hardships, and that was the striking out of the 8-feet per child limit in the elementary schools. He did not suppose anyone quarrelled with the desire of the Board—it was a desire which he shared—that children should have full space for the prosecution of their studies, in comfort. He had no doubt that in a great part of the country the requirement would not work hardly. Certainly, in rural districts the accommodation provided was often in excess of the school attendance, and therefore there would be no difficulty to meet the present requirements of the Board there; but there would no doubt be cases in towns, and possibly even in the country, in which a sudden call upon a school, whether voluntary or Board school, to meet this 10-feet requirement would produce hardship. Children might have to be taken out of schools to which they were attached and which their parents wished them to attend and have to go to other schools which their parents did not desire them to attend. He therefore expressed the hope that the new rule, or rather the omission from the Code of this year of the rule which was involved, would be exercised in a spirit of fairness. What he regarded, however, of most importance was the topic on which he had already dwelt, and which the President of the Board of Education had dismissed with a smile and the waving of his hand—the introduction of the, practice of legislation by regulation. The President of the Board of Education was imposing requirements as to religious teaching or the observance of religious 82 teaching which imposed disabilities as conditions of grant: what one Board of Education did, however, another might undo. There was a great deal in the requirements which he considered unjust, and he should have no hesitation in doing his best to undo them if occasion offered; and to introduce into Departmental Government practices which would produce see-saw administration, leaving one Government to undo the work of another Government, would be a most unfortunate thing. If these changes were to be made, they should be made by legislation. The House ought to have full opportunity of considering whether training colleges and; secondary schools were to be provided with a Cowper-Temple clause which by legislation had been imposed upon all elementary schools and all secondary schools provided by the local educational authority and the House should say whether the Board of Education was to be allowed to do what the local authority was forbidden to do, which was to differentiate between different classes of schools in relation to grants in accordance with the religious teaching there given. These were serious matters which they ought never to have been invited to discuss without a full explanation of the policy of the President of the Board of Education. They ware discussing them under a disadvantage. He hoped he was not doing the President of the Board of Education an injustice when he told him that he was departing from the universal practice of the Board and running counter to the spirit, if not the letter, of a whole series of statutes.
§ *MR. S. T. EVANS (Glamorganshire, Mid.)
said the speech just delivered by the hon. Baronet was just the kind of speech they would have expected from the representative of the late Government at the Education Office. The greater portion of the speech was taken up with the question of the secondary schools and training colleges. He did not propose to attempt to deal with his arguments with reference to the secondary schools, because he took greater interest in the intermediate schools of Wales than in the secondary schools of England and he would only point out that 83 there never had been any religious difficulty in their intermediate schools, because in them they had practically the spirit of the regulations which they saw in the Code of his right hon. friend this year prevailing all over the country. There never had been from the beginning in these schools any difficulty from the point of view either of the Church of England or any other denomination with reference to the religious instruction which was imparted. The hon. Baronet had said that they were by this new Code for the first time imposing religious disabilities in the training colleges. But on the contrary his right hon. friend was removing some of the religious disabilities under which Nonconformists had suffered for generations. The hon. Baronet said the Code had been got up to meet the clamour of a clique of Nonconformists. They did not mind hard words being used towards them, if only the diabilities from which they had suffered were removed, and to the extent that these disabilities were removed he most heartily approved of the provisions incorporated for the first time in the Code of Regulations under the régime of his right hon. friend. He would point out what the hon. Baronet called imposing religious disabilities. This was one of the regulations—In no circumstances may the application of a candidate be rejected on the ground of religious faith or by reason of his refusal to undertake to attend or abstain from attending any place of religious worship or any religious observances or instruction in religious subjects in the college or elsewhere; nor on the ground of social antecedents or the like.He should think that was an attempt to remove religious disabilities already existing. To say it was imposing religious disabilities was to use the phrase in a most unwarrantable fashion.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
said that what he meant by "religious disability" was that they took a particular sort of religious instruction which persons desired and said that if they had that religious instruction in their establishment they should not get the money which the State gave.
§ *MR. S. T. EVANS
said he should call that freedom from any religious disability. I the hon. Baronet would refer to one other of the regulations he would 84 see that after August 1st, 1907, no institution not already recognised as a training college or hostel would be so recognised unless certain conditions were observed. First, no catechism or formulary of any particular religious denomination might be taught in the college or hostel, "except in the case where the parent or guardian requested the governor in writing to provide that the student's religious instruction in the doctrines, catechism or formularies distinctive of any particular denomination." He did not know whether the hon. Baronet had forgotten that provision, or whether the Code had not been in his hands sufficiently long to enable him to master it. Why did the denominations assert an exclusive claim to the training colleges? Everybody knew that training colleges had been mainly built by public money, and that they had been maintained for generations almost exclusively by public money. Who had had the benefit of that? The Church of England had had the benefit, and that was the particular denomination that was fighting in this matter to retain the exclusive right to manage the institutions. It had excluded whenever it had thought fit anybody who would not submit to its regulations, doctrines, teachings, or religious observances in the colleges. It was in order to remove these disabilities and to enable Nonconformists to enter these State institutions without sacrificing their self-respect, and to adhere to the religious beliefs of themselves and their parents that he and his friends wanted the resolution to be adopted. If denominations desired to retain their colleges, let them keep them by all means—he would not even require them to disgorge any of the public money which had been spent on the colleges—but let them maintain those colleges at the exclusive expense of the denomination which they served. It had been complained that the present proposal was legislation by regulation. That might be so, but what had rendered that course necessary was the attitude of the Conservative Party in the House, and of their allies in another place. The Minister for Education had not only the right but it was his duty to do his best to give effect to the well-known wishes of the electorate when those wishes had been thwarted in the Upper House. 85 He hoped that the Minister for Education would continue in the course he had adopted. Let him not be frightened by the cry that he was doing wrong. There had been notable instances where reforms were achieved by Executive Act, where legislation had failed. There was the well-known historic proposal to abolish purchase in the Army. A Bill with that object passed the Commons but was rejected by the Lords. Mr. Gladstone then advised the Crown to abolish purchase in the Army by Royal Warrant. He was constitutionally right, and, although it was a bold thing to do, it was justified, having regard to the welfare of the nation. If his right hon. friend was doing nothing outside an Act of Parliament, he was doing nothing wrong. Within the provisions and the letter of the statute he certainly had the right, and it was his duty to the supporters of the Government in the House and in the country, to deal with this question, not only in the training colleges, but also, so far as the could, in the denominational schools. He wanted to know whether his right hon. friend could not go a little bit further, in dealing with the voluntary schools by means of the Code. His right hon. friend ought, in his judgment, to give every support to the local authorities to insist upon the observance of all the statutory obligations which had been imposed upon the trustees and managers of the denominational schools. They [would have no ground to complain, because the obligations were slight enough in all conscience, having regard to the advantages which they still retained and the control which they still wielded. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would insist upon these obligations being carried out to the very letter of the law. What were some of the obligations? The first was that the school buildings must be kept in repair by the trustees of the schools, and in many parts of the country it was said that the local authorities had been very strict upon the managers and the owners of the schools in this matter. He submitted that it was the duty of the Education Department to see to it that if the school was not kept in repair and the provisions under the Act of 1902 were not observed that the local authorities should be supported in their refusal to give any grant to the 86 school. They had no access to the reports of the inspectors, but he made bold to say that in the pigeon-holes available to his right hon. friend he would find abundant evidence that many of the schools were not in proper repair and condition, and that Clause 7 of the Act was not observed, and that under the Act of Parliament they were no longer entitled to be public schools and have public money given to them. He urged this especially for the sake of the children. The next obligation was to make such reasonable alterations and improvements as might be required by the local authority: and he wished to refer to the alteration in the Code of the space or floor area required for every scholar which was a provision of great importance touching the health and comfort of the children. The prefatory note to the Code stated—The Board, however, propose to take steps gradually to bring the accommodation up to the proper standard, and as a first step towards doing this they have removed from the Code the provision which has hitherto appeared stating that there shall in no case be less than eight square feet of internal area for each unit of the number of children in average attendance for which the school is recognised.The inclusion of this provision had in certain cases been misinterpreted as implying that eight square feet was accepted by the Board as adequate, just as, when a speed of twenty miles was allowed in regard to motor cars, everyone thought that motors must go twenty miles an hour. In regard to new council schools he understood that the Board of Education in their building regulations required that they should show an average of not less than ten square feet of floor-space for each scholar in average attendance
§ *MR. S. T. EVANS
said that was a reasonable provision. But it was pointed out in the note to the Code that in voluntary schools erected in earlier years the accommodation had usually been calculated at eight square feet per scholar only, and as the Board were not always supplied with complete plans, it was stated that it was possible that in some cases the actual accommodation had not reached 87 even this minimum standard. If the standard of ten feet was right in regard to council schools, he maintained that it would be a reasonable requirement on the part of the local education authority that the trustees and managers of voluntary schools should also make provision for this space, as a condition of the right of: public maintenance. He also thought play-grounds ought to be attached to all schools, and that they should be made (as the Code provided) healthy, safe in case of fire, that there should be sufficient sanitary and cloak-room accommodation, and that they should be adequately lighted, warmed, ventilated, cleaned and drained, kept in proper repair, and should be sufficiently convenient and suitably arranged for the instruction of children: and no grant should be paid unless these provisions were complied with. Then again, the quality and quantity of the staffing in the voluntary schools should be brought up to the same level as in the council schools. They must come to this sooner or later, that the public must provide their own schools, and that there must be one, and only one, common type of elementary school erected and maintained by the State where all children would be treated on the same footing. Nobody could deny that the quality and quantity of staffing in the council schools was on a higher scale than in the denominational schools, and he wanted the level in the latter raised to that of the former. This might force the local authorities to do what they did not want to do; it might put people's backs up so as to make them passive resisters, but if it produced the reforms they desired, it would be worth the sacrifice. With regard to the grants, there were, as he understood, five different grants given to elementary schools. There was the Aid Grant given under Section 10 of the 1902 Act, which must be given by Statute, and which the Department could not withhold if the school fulfilled the conditions. Then there was the Fee Grant, which was also statutory; but next came the Annual Grant, which was 17s. per head to infants, and 22s. per head for older children, Which was in a different category. Was it not possible for the right hon. Gentleman to say that he would not continue to give 88 these latter grants in respect of any schools unless the owners gave the majority of the control to the public and unless they made the regulations of the schools similar to those which would now prevail in the training colleges? The only argument against the Department having that power appeared in Section 97 of the Act of 1870, which provided that advantage should not be given to one school over another. But this was not a question of giving a bigger grant to one school and a smaller to another. The Act of 1870 did not say the right hon. Gentleman could not impose conditions as to the grant, and he therefore submitted that the Department was in a like position qua this particular anuaul grant with regard to the elementary schools as with the training colleges. He trusted his right hon. friend would consider that matter. Finally, he congratulated him for having boldly faced the situation. It came with a very bad grace from hon. Members opposite to say that his right hon. friend had no right by this method, and by means of the Code, to try and mitigate the injustice from which the people had suffered so long. If it had not been for the treatment which the Education Bill of last year received at the hands of the other House, these regulations would never have been made. What had happened last year completely justified them. He could assure his right hon. friend that if he went fast and boldly in the direction he had indicated, he would have the consistent and unanimous support of all those who sat on the Ministerial side of the House.
§ *MR. STUART WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)
said the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just spoken was nothing if not humorous, and sometimes he was an unconscious humorist. During the debates of 1902 the hon. and learned Gentleman was constantly expressing distrust of the Education Office as an executive Department. He must have some humorous recollections now of how he forgot in that day that what one executive embarked upon with levity, a later executive might possibly reverse with wisdom and with popular acceptance. These considerations were only some among many evidences that the day had 89 gone by when in respect of Radical measures either of legislation or of executive power, men could say "they are bound to come, and, having come, are bound to remain. "Bad legislation could now be and probably would be reversed and set aside. And he could promise hon. Gentlemen opposite that no efforts would be lacking—and probably a considerable deal of success would attend those efforts —to obtain popular approval for the complete reversal of these flagitious measures of the present Executive. There was a recent example which might serve as a warning to the President of the Board of Education. The right hon. Gentleman was being invited to embark on an executive crusade against voluntary schools. In 1893–5 they had such an executive crusade, and then there was the general election of 1895. Some of the acuter observers of the contests of that period were of opinion that although perhaps cordite had something to do with it, and Home Rule had something more to do with it, and possibly beer had something to do with it, yet the crusade of those days undertaken by Mr. Arthur Acland against the Church schools probably had more than anything else to do with the dire reverse which befell the Liberal Party of that day. [An Hon. Member: That is unconscious humour.] When invitations to proceed upon a crusade of that kind were addressed to the right hon. Gentleman—when he was asked to renew in 1907 what had such dire consequences in 1895—he (Mr. Stuart Wortley) and many of his friends hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would try.
§ MR HARVEY (Rochdale)
remarked that according to the doctrine laid down by the last speaker a Liberal Government was to carry out the regulations and arrangements of its Tory predecessors and then there would be peace, but immediately a Liberal Government dared to put into operation those principles of administration which its Members were elected to carryout, the direst consequences were threatened. He did not think the Liberal Party would assent to a propostion of that sort. His purpose was to offer a few criticisms upon what he considered to be the apathy of the Board 90 of Education with regard to the defective condition of many of the elementary schools. The situation, he thought, was one which demanded courage and determination on the part of the Board. His view was that the rejection of the Bill of last year, so far from paralysing the Board, ought to stimulate them to a relentless performance of their obvious duties. After the rejection of the generous and just measure of last year many of them had predicted that a course of strong administration would immediately be set on foot. Something had been said about a bloodless administration. He never understood the meaning of those words, but he hoped they did not mean that the administration might be colourless and anæmic. He had always thought that many of our educational difficulties might be set straight by administration. He did not ask for vindictive action, which would be undignified and tend to set up a feeling of sympathy where sympathy was not merited. It was common knowledge that many elementary schools were bad in the sense that they were bad for the health of children and teachers, and the results obtained, moreover, were not commensurate with the public money spent on them. The Board of Education compelled the children to go to these schools and was bound to safeguard the children's interests. He urged that the Board should stand behind the local authorities in these matters and give them its support. Incidentally he might say that he admitted the Act of 1902 had had the effect of improving elementary education by the raising of the salaries of the teachers and by stimulating public interest in education. Ho maintained that playgrounds, cloakrooms, and lavatories were required for all elementary schools, [and he thought the time had come when the 10-feet space area should be insisted upon. If the President of the Board of Education could not follow the children to their homes, at all events he could insist that in the schools there should be a sufficiency of light and air during the hours which they spent there. The right hon. Gentleman could not see that the children went early to bed, but he could set his face against the nerve destroying conditions of many schools 91 where the conflict of raised voices interfered with the processes of education and rendered the children irritable and confused. The Board acted not only by codes and regulations, but through inspectors who were always willing to do their duty. When the last Education Bill was carried the then President of the Board, Lord Londonderry, called the inspectors together conspicuously and publicly, and told them to stay their hands and not to report adversely against bad schools. The President of the Board should follow that example publicly and conspicuously, but with this difference. Let him call together the inspectors in the public eye, and tell them that he would like to hear of all those cases; let him insist, in fact, upon a survey of the schools of the country, and let the results of that survey be made publicly known. The Blue-book published each year giving a list of the elementary schools of the country was supposed to contain figures of the accommodation in each school with the number of children the managers were entitled to teach therein Those figures were very inaccurate. In many cases they very much overstated the capacity of the school. He had instances in his mind. He would not be expected to give the names of the schools, but he could hand them to the right hon. Gentleman. He was very well acquainted with a certain denominational school which had a mixed department that, according to the Blue-book, accommodated 561 children. On the 8-feet basis it could only accommodate 524, and on the 10-feet basis 401; and the working accommodation of the school was assessed by the managers at 394. That deceived the public. He came to the case of six schools in Lancashire, where the Blue-book gave the accommodation in the mixed department at 1, 310, but which on the 8 feet basis was only 1, 180, and where the working accommodation, as assessed by the officials of the Lancashire County Council, was for 898, the full number of children that could be taught. He thought the President of the Board of Education would act wisely if he resurveyed those schools, because they wanted the public to know the true facts of the situation, for until they did know the true facts 92 they would never make the progress which so many of them desired. Many cases must be known to Members of the House where inspectors had reported adversely upon schools, and yet those reports had mysteriously disappeared, and they knew nothing more about them. He made these criticisms in no hostile spirit, for he believed the Minister for Education was showing great energy this year, but he wanted to assure him of the support he would receive if he proved still more energetic.
§ MR. BOLAND (Kerry, S.)
said he did not know whether the President of the Board of Education was aware of the effect produced among the Catholics of this country by the publication of the regulations for secondary schools and training colleges. He could assure him that they were regarded as a declaration of war, and he would, before he sat down, move the reduction of the Vote in order to emphasise their attitude upon this subject. He thought the least that could be said was that the President of the Board of Education had endeavoured to pass, by regulations for secondary schools, what the Government last year failed to obtain in the case of elementary schools. The endeavour was undoubtedly to starve out the denominational schools in the case of the secondary schools, to interfere with the training colleges, Catholic and Protestant, and then by easy stages, having secured the principle in the case of secondary schools and training colleges, to proceed, at as early a date as possible, to the absolute destruction of the denominational colleges and schools of the country. He spoke only with a knowledge of the Catholic training colleges, which to a great extent had been built by Catholics out of their own funds. He found from the regulations dealing with training colleges, that application might be made for and on behalf of any candidate who had been refused admission to a college, with a view to obtaining the Board's decision as to whether Section 8 had been infringed. By this the door was immediately opened to outside influences, quite apart from the actual student who was supposed to be interfered with. Then the regulation went on—If the grounds on which the candidate has been rejected are in the view of the Board 93 unreasonable, the college or hostel returned will be liable to a reduction in its total grant for the year, not exceeding £100, on the first occasion, and to removal from the list of recognised colleges or hostels on the second occasion.The importance of this would be seen if they took one of the Catholic training colleges where at the present moment there was not a single student who was not Catholic. What was to prevent someone who was not a Catholic presenting himself as a candidate and being refused, in which event £100 would be deducted from the grant? And, again, what was to prevent a strong Nonconformist parent, anxious to do away with the Catholic training college in his district, from getting his son to present himself as a candidate and being refused, in which event the college would be removed altogether from the list of colleges and hostels receiving grants. He did not think it was the least exaggeration to say that this could be done under the actual terms of the regulations. They might foresee the spirit in which these regulations would be carried out from the speech made by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Mid. Glamorgan, but the Catholics were prepared to meet this declaration of war, if a declaration of war was meant, by the strongest refusal and objection to seeing these regulations put in force. It would be equally possible for him to detain the House with reference to the regulations for secondary schools if he desired to do so; but he thought that he was justified in saying that they went pari passu with the regulations for training colleges. The two things stood together, coupled with this fact, that these regulations were to come into force on 1st August. They had only received four weeks notice. He did not know whether they could be issued at any moment or had to lie on the Table for four or five weeks. ["No."] If they were not to be laid on the Table, then there was all the more reason that they should not be sprung on the country. If these regulations could be issued two or three weeks before they came into force, there was nothing whatever to prevent the Board of Education from issuing them the day before they were to come into operation. It had always been considered that a 94 certain amount of time should be given to Members and the public generally to consider regulations by the documents being laid on the Table for a specified period, and he contended that where that was not done Members of that House and the public should have due and solemn notice before such absolutely revolutionary regulations were brought into force. The hon. and learned Member for Mid. Glamorgan had referred to the necessity of the Government stiffening their backs and supporting the local education authorities. He would like to mention two instances which showed the way in which, if that advice were adopted, denominational schools, Catholic and Protestant, throughout the country would have absolutely no chance of being heard or getting justice. One case occurred in the West Riding of Yorkshire which he believed was coming before the right hon. Gentleman personally for decision. It was that of a school at Mortomley, near Sheffield. The salaries of the teachers had been withheld since 1st May on the objection taken by the local authority that the playground had not been asphalted. The only answer he wished to make on this case was to quote from letters sent by the Board of Education itself to the local education authority in this particular matter. On the 17th May, in the present year, the Board of Education wrote to the local education authority as follows—The Board have been informed by the managers that the authority have required them to asphalt the playground as a condition of maintaining the school. I am to remind you that, in the opinion of the Board, the authority are not empowered to make such a requirement, though the managers are under an obligation to put and maintain the playground in a proper condition for the use for which it was intended. In the present case the Board understand that the managers have given an undertaking to carry out their duties in this respect.That was the reply given officially by the Board of Education to the local education authority, and that authority refused to accept that decision. They refused to pay the salaries of the teachers and for three months they had been kept without salaries. A little later, on the 8th June, another letter was written by the Board of Education to 95 the local education authority in the following terms—Under these circumstances there appears to be no reason why the authority should not recognise the new premises and continue to maintain the school as required by Section 7 of the Education Act of 1902.That was a case in which the local education authority received two answers from the Board of Education directing them to maintain this particular school, and yet they refused to pay the salaries necessary to do so. He referred to the case as showing what the local education authority was able to do if it had within its ranks people determined to destroy the educational character of a school. The second case was more important, because it raised in a remarkable degree the action, not only of the Board of Education, but also of the local education authority, which was the county council for the West Riding of Yorkshire. It was the case of the Low Valley schools, and it exemplified what could be done by a local education authority when the Board of Education was dilatory in carrying out the Act of 1902. Public notice was given on 19th January, 1906, under Section 8 of the Act of the intention of the promoters to provide a new school. The Act provided that there should be no unnecessary delay in carrying out the requirements, but in this case six clear months elapsed before a public inquiry was held. It was held on 4th July, and the inspector actually issued his report on 30th July last year. Would the House believe it, it was not until nine months after that report was sent in that the Board of Education gave its decision, and all that time this particular school was being maintained by the people of the district out of their own pockets. During those fifteen months the Board of Education, by its dilatoriness, prevented the matter being settled. Meanwhile the anxiety of the local authority was undoubtedly to have this Low Valley Catholic school crushed out as well as the neighbouring Church of England school, and, towards the end of 1905, they gave notice that they wanted a new school built to accommodate 720 scholars, which practically meant that the Church of England and the Catholic schools would be closed and their scholars 96 find their way into the new council school. But that school had not yet been built; the council had not even got a site, and if they got permission to build to-morrow it would be at least a year before it could be erected. Meanwhile the local education authority had acquired possession of what was previously a Wesleyan school which they were now carrying on as a provided school. That school was admitted to be the most unsatisfactory building of all school buildings in the district. The council were still maintaining that school, and no conclusion had yet been arrived at to obtain a site for the new school. By the action of the local education authority and the Board of Education in neglecting to bring matters to a head the Catholic miners of Barnsley had had for two years to maintain the Low Valley school out of their own slender resources, and last Monday the Church of England school was closed. Whether the parents of that school would join with the Catholics in maintaining their own school remained to be seen, but he hoped they would and so check this direct effort of the local education authority of the West Riding to crush out denominational schools. He submitted that if any hon. Member would read the correspondence which had been printed and published with respect to the Low Valley school, he would see what would happen if the Board of Education did not stand fairly between parents who desired denominational education and a local education authority determined at all costs to act in an unfortunate spirit which had not characterised English local government administration. He hoped they would see that the Board of Education acted honestly as a court of appeal and not delay when it meant help to the local authority, and above all that it would check that unfortunate spirit which seemed to be spreading on the West Riding County Council and was trying to crush out denominational schools altogether. The regulations for training colleges and secondary schools were a direct declaration of war on the part of the Board of Education, and they would undoubtedly be accepted by the Catholics and Protestants of Great Britain in that light. The Board of Education had not acted fairly in bringing 97 forward those regulations only a few days before they had to come into force, and only a couple of days before this important debate. He begged to move a reduction of the Vote by £100.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Item A (1) (Salaries, Wages, and Allowances) be reduced by £100."—(Mr. Boland.)
§ MR WILLIAM REDMOND (Clare, E.)
said that the hon. Member for South Kerry had so well stated the case of the particular schools about which complaint was made that there was really no need for him to refer again to those specific cases. He would like, however, to make one or two general remarks on the regulations which had been issued by the Board of Education. Whether the Minister for Education realised it or not, he was certainly by these proposals preparing the way for a great deal of trouble for himself and his Party. If he imagined that he could treat minorities in this way he was making a very great mistake indeed. He entirely denied the right of any Government, no matter how strong, to spring upon the country and Parliament regulations which meant an absolute revolution in the management of the schools of the land. These regulations, if carried into effect, would entirely change the whole management of secondary schools and training colleges. That being so, the very least they expected was that full and ample notice would have been given by the Government of their intention. It was altogether wrong that it should be within the power of any administration, simply by the publication of a couple of pamphlets, to introduce such extraordinary and fundamental changes. Last year the Government endeavoured frankly and in the ordinary way by introducing a Bill to crush, to a great extent, many of the denominational schools in the country. Whatever might be said for a course of that kind, there was absolutely nothing to be said for either the candour or the courage of a Government which endeavoured to crush denominational institutions, not by introducing a Bill, but by issuing a couple of pamphlets without any notice whatever. They often heard 98 that it was more and more becoming the practice of Parliament to be asked to register the will of the Cabinet and that it was really at the Cabinet Councils that the programme of the Government was settled and not by discussions in Parliament. However that might be, it was not for the present Cabinet, no matter how large a majority might be behind it, to carry through without notice, by regulations, or by Act of Parliament, changes which very injuriously affected large minorities in the country. There was no need for him to go at length into the changes involved by the new regulations. Any man who read the pamphlets would come at once to the conclusion that they had but one intention, and that was mercilessly to crush denominational schools and training colleges. With reference to admission to training colleges, there was an extraordinary change. They were told that—In no circumstances may the application of a candidate be rejected on the ground of religious faith or by reason of his refusal to undertake to attend or abstain from attending any place of religious worship, or any religious observance, or instruction in religious subjects in the college or elsewhere.[Cheers.] Yes, that was cheered by hon. Gentlemen opposite. It might suit the schools and the class of establishments of which they approved very well, but could a more monstrous regulation be laid down with reference to a Catholic boarding school which was in existence simply because it was a Catholic school, and to which parents sent their children mainly, and almost entirely, because they knew that there, at any rate, they would be taught the religion they themselves believed and which they desired their children to be taught? What did it mean? It meant that if these schools were to continue to get any grants-in-aid whatever, under these regulations, they would have to give up their character as denominational schools altogether.
§ MR WILLIAM REDMOND
said the right hon. Gentleman denied that, and no doubt he would endeavour later on to justify his denial. But, after all, what they had to consider on these matters was the opinion of the people who were 99 affected by them, and he said that the Catholic people of this country, at any rate, whatever might be said for the Protestant denominations, would read those regulations as having one object, and that was to destroy the Catholic character of their schools which had been established with very great difficulty and with much sacrifice. With regard to the regulations for the training colleges, they put a premium upon attempts by people who were bitterly hostile to the Catholic religion at any rate, to enter the training colleges simply for the purpose of breaking them up altogether. What was to prevent students claiming admission to any of the Catholic training colleges in the country, and, if the conditions set forth in the new regulations were not carried out, the training colleges being closed altogether? The regulations in reference to the training schools and colleges were most unjust and, at the very least, full warning ought to have been given by the right hon. Gentleman before the changes were made. He did not know whether the President of the Board of Education expected that the people who bitterly resisted the attempt made by the Education Bill of last year to crush the denominational schools were going calmly to submit to its being done by regulations. If they resisted being wiped out by Act of Parliament, they would still more resist being interfered with or wiped out by regulations. The protest made during that debate was but the commencement of a protest, which would not be confined to the House of Commons. It would spread through every part of the country, and in the end the Government would be convinced that it was not possible at this time in the history of the world to proceed in the manner proposed in these regulations. The time had come when, in matters of the deepest and most vital interest in connection with the education of children, the country ought not to be asked to consent to regulations drawn up in the Education Department or any other Department. If these changes were to be made in reference to training colleges and schools, let a Bill be introduced into Parliament, with full warning of its introduction, so that the people had an opportunity of making their opinions known and felt, 100 and let not this cowardly attempt be made to do an underhand sort of a way what the Government did not succeed in doing when it was proposed by the Bill of last year. He felt that he had spoken somewhat strongly in the matter, but he assured hon. Gentlemen opposite that his indignation had been aroused by the sudden publication of these regulations. Speaking quite frankly and without any hostile spirit at all, he did not know what had come over the counsels of the present Government. For some time past they had been wasting time, in many directions. They had been taking step after step which had not led them a bit more forward in the confidence of the people or strengthened their position in this House. Practically at the end of the session these changes were suggested. He could only say that of the many mistakes that had been made this would probably, if persisted in, be found to be the greatest, and it would prove a colossal blunder so far as the interest of the Government was concerned. He was afraid that unless some strong assurance was given by the right hon. Gentleman to calm the fears that had been aroused, these proposals would give rise to more trouble in the country and in Parliament than the right hon. Gentleman had any idea of.
§ MR. McKENNA
said the hon. Baronet who moved the reduction of the Vote, and also the hon. Member for East Clare, had complained that the training college regulations had been sprung upon the people without notice Upon that preliminary point ho had two answers to make. On 15th May this year in the House of Commons he said—With regard to the training colleges, he had found that question a difficult one to deal with. The only conclusion he had been able to come to was that in every training college there ought to be a conscience clause. The training colleges were almost exclusively supported out of public funds. That regulation would, for administrative reasons, not come into force this year, but it would come before the House next year.That was the exact position. This regulation would come into force next year.
§ MR. McKENNA
said they were published three days ago. His meaning was perfectly understood on 15th May by the hon. Baronet the Member for Oxford University, who said—As regarded the training colleges, the effect of what had been told them by the President of the Hoard of Education was not at first sight very obvious, but at the same time it did not strike him us being very alarming to those colleges which had been built and started by denominations.Then he went on to say, showing that he thoroughly appreciated the meaning of the conscience clause—The requirements of the proposed conscience clause did not seem to him to amount to more than this, that a Nonconformist would be able to go to a Church college, and that a Church of England student would be able to go to a Noncomformist college, both without any fear of proselytising.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
But I did not understand from you that Nonconformists would be forced upon either Church of England or Roman Catholic colleges, and I said I reserved my opinion upon the regulations until I saw them.
§ MR. McKENNA
said all he had done was to make that conscience clause of which he then gave notice a reality. He would have been misleading the House if he had only done what the hon. Baronet suggested. If he had merely said that the managers of training colleges might accept a Nonconformist if they liked, or that they might accept a Church of England applicant at the bottom of the list instead of a Nonconformist at the top, he would have been deceiving the House. He had done exactly what he had said he would do. The hon. Member for South Kerry had called this "a declaration of war." He would be sorry if anything he had done in this regulation were regarded as in the nature of a declaration of war. It was not so intended, and he did not think it would be found so in operation. What he meant to do was to throw these schools and colleges open to applicants of all denominations so long as the schools and colleges were maintained nit of public moneys. If these denominational colleges were maintained by private funds he would naturally have nothing to say. They would not be under his control. But so long as the public paid, the public ought to control. If there was one thing on which the public 102 clearly expressed their desire at the last election it was that in schools and colleges there might be public control over public expenditure. The hon. Member for Clare had said that he had taken a new line, and he referred to paragraph 18 of the new regulations. If the hon. Member, however, would turn to the Act of 1902 —an Act which he supported—he would find religious instruction upon the very lines laid down in those regulations with regard to secondary schools. He was only following the principle laid down in, and using the language of, that Bill.
§ SIR WILLIAM ANSON
said that if the right hon. Gentleman would read the clause he would find that the local authority was expressly forbidden, either to require or not to require that religious instruction should or should not be given.
§ MR. McKENNA
said the hon. Baronet had stated better than he could his point, which was that as regarded the rates it was expressly provided that the local authority should not have regard to religion. He was following out that principle in regard to training colleges. He was making it a condition in regard to training colleges, to which a grant was paid, that no person should be excluded because he practised or abstained from practising any particular religion. It was the same principle, though the application was not the same. Freedom from denominational qualification was a condition of receiving public aid.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said it was somewhat irritating continually to hear the statement "public money." Did not the denominations pay their full share of public money and were they not entitled to consideration?
§ MR. McKENNA
said he would deal with the general principle in a moment. The hon. Baronet had challenged him on Clause 4. Paragraph (a) of Subsection (2) provided that—A scholar attending as a day or evening scholar shall not be required, as a condition of being admitted into or remaining in the school or college, to attend or abstain from attending any Sunday school, place of religious worship, religious observance, or instruction in religious subjects in the school or college or elsewhere.103 He had applied the same principle to training colleges. There were two other particular points, before he dealt with the general question, which the hon. Member for South Kerry had referred to—the conduct of the local education authority in the West Riding of Yorkshire in regard to schools at Mortomley and Low Valley. The case of Mortomley, as the hon. Member was aware, was sub judice. He had the case before him, and it would not be proper for him to say anything upon it at the present moment. With regard to Low Valley, the difficulty arose originally with regard to the Catholic school and the building of a council school. When the proper statutory notice under the Act of 1902 to build the council school was given, no opposition was taken by the representatives of the Catholics. Consequently, the local education authority obtained leave to build the school in the absence of any opposition. As no opposition was taken, it could not be assumed that the parents in the district did not require a council school, but wished, on the contrary, to have a Roman Catholic or Church school. Having obtained the right, the local education authority, he understood, intended to build the school, but had been prevented by local difficulties with regard to the transfer of the site from doing so up to the present time. They were within their statutory rights, and, though the hon. Member might complain of the action of the local education authority, he did not see that he had any ground of complaint against the Board. It was true he had spoken of the delay between July last year until the early part of this year, but, as he knew, in many cases very important questions of dispute between local education authorities and managers of schools arose owing to the fact that a Bill was then before Parliament, although in the present case the delay seemed to have operated disadvantageously, as the hon. Member thought, to the school managers. There were many instances where it had operated disadvantageously to the local education authorities. He would pass from that to the question raised originally by the Leader of the Opposition in regard to the proposal to put upon the Estimates the charge for 104 £100,000 for building new schools. The right hon. Gentleman had very truly said that the proposal was a contradiction of a clause in the Act of 1870. So far, they were on common ground. He went on to say, however, that it was unconstitutional or at any rate improper and possibly disorderly to make any such proposal in the Estimates until the clause in the Act of 1870 had been repealed. He observed that it would be a very difficult position for the courts to deal with, if they found, at one and the same time, two Acts of Parliament, one forbidding the building of schools out of public money and the other, the Appropriation Act, apparently authorising the building of such schools out of money granted from the Exchequer. That, he took it, was the position the right hon. Gentleman took up. The answer was really very much simpler than he had suggested could be the case. It was perfectly true the Act of 1870 forbade the application of Exchequer grants to the purposes of building schools, but it did not bind Parliament for all time, and it was perfectly open to the House, first by Vote and secondly by the incorporation of that Vote in the Appropriation Act, provided the purpose was explicitly stated in the Appropriation Act—perfectly possible and proper he submitted—to override to the extent that the Appropriation Act could override an Act of Parliament by the inclusion of a particular charge in the Appropriation Act. He said the extent to which the Appropriation Act could override it, because the Appropriation Act did not repeal or purport to repeal the Act of 1870. The prohibition under the Act of 1870 continued. The Appropriation Act only lasted during the currency of the present financial year. All he could do under the Appropriation Act and all he would do if Parliament allowed him would be to acquire the right to pay out of money voted by the House a sum of £100,000 for the purpose of building schools up to 31st March next. If he had not spent all the money then he must surrender what remained to the Exchequer in accordance with the usual practice. He could not carry the money over, and could not go on spending any part of the money after 31st March. The Act of 1870 still remained in force, 105 and the prohibition still existed, but so far as the Appropriation Act had authorised the expenditure of this £ 100,000 within the year only he would be able to spend that money under the authority of statute. He did not know whether any question of order would ever be submitted. He could not see that one arose. The right hon. Gentleman might not like it, and he might have his own view as to the constitutional point, but he could hardly put a point of order for the Chair. The right hon. Gentleman raised the question of the refusal of hostel grants under the regulations either for new denominational hostels built in connection with undenominational training colleges or undenominational hostels built in connection with denominational training colleges, bat he did not quite state the whole meaning and purport of the grants. It was perfectly true that what were known as hostel grants would no longer be given in respect of hostels under the conditions which he had described, but there was nothing to prevent an ordinary student getting a lodging grant and taking it where he liked. The difference between the hostel and lodging grants was a matter of £10 a year. The lodging grant was in respect to the expense of a student's living whilst training for the profession of a teacher, and the hostel grant was an additional grant to cover the expense of the corporate life which the student lived in a hostel. The question he had to consider was, ought they to pay that what one might call the corporate grant when the corporate body was held together for a denominational purpose? If it was for a denominational purpose that the hostel was maintained, ought not that corporate body to provide for the hostel? They gave the lodging grant presumably for what it cost to keep the student who attended daily a training college, but if he wished to live in the denominational atmosphere of the hostel, then the denominations ought to pay for that atmosphere. The student might take his lodging grant where he pleased. The Board had no desire to prevent anybody living in a denominational atmosphere if he or she wished. All they had sought to do was not to make the public pay for that atmosphere. Freedom to 106 the student was still fully granted. A question had been raised by the right hon. Gentleman as to the building grants, but it had been cleared up in the course of the discussion by the hon. Baronet, and therefore he need not further refer to the matter. The hon. Baronet had made a strong and plausible constitutional point in respect of the regulations. Ho had said that the regulations should not be used for enforcing or preventing religious doctrine from being taught, but that if Parliament wished to enforce such teaching or abstention it ought to be carried out by an Act. That was a very pleasing doctrine in the mouth of the hon. Baronet. When the hon. Baronet had a majority in the House he had also a majority else whore; and when he pointed to what he did in 1902 and held the action up as a model for the Government to follow, the hon. Baronet was really holding up something which the Government could not copy. He would be willing to introduce a Bill as the Chief Secretary did if it were in his power to do all that the hon. Baronet wished; but he could not—not because of the House of Commons, for the representatives of the people would give him an overwhelming authority; and he was asking them to give this authority by the regulations.
§ SIR W. ANSON
Does the right hon. Gentleman not remember that the Cowper-Temple Clause was introduced by a Liberal Government?
§ MR. McKENNA
said he remembered perfectly that it was introduced by a Churchman, but ho did not see how that fact was relevant to the present position. Whatever might have been done in 1870 could not be nearly so well done to-day, because the action of the other House last year had taught the Government that no matter what compromise they offered, they could not give force to the will of the majority of the House of Commons—he said it without offence— if the Leader of the Opposition thought it to be more advantageous to his Party that the Bill should not pass. Under these conditions, he was forced to take the only method open to him, a perfectly proper method, perfectly constitutional, thoroughly authorised by statute, and to enforce these principles by means of a regulation. All 107 that he could do by regulations was to make the doing of a particular act or the refraining from doing a particular act a condition of money grant. But he could not declare by regulation this or that thing illegal; all he could do was to say that he could only distribute these grants in accordance with certain conditions, and in that he was acting in a perfectly constitutional way. After all, it was a pure money question, and although he admitted that a Bill would give a fuller opportunity of debate, nevertheless, inasmuch as a Bill would have no prospect of passing, he was bound to take the only course open to him and to make these necessary changes by regulations. Then the hon. Baronet had complained of the secondary school regulations for local education authority control; but he reminded the hon. Member that there had been ample time for him to consider them and their effect since May 15, when the policy was welcomed, though the giving of the local authority a majority was deprecated. To-day the hon. Baronet assumed a different position, though between 15th May and now he had not received a word of protest from the hon. Baronet on the point. [Sir W. ANSON: There has been no opportunity.] The hon. baronet had enjoyed several opportunities, and, considering that he was interested in education, it would not have been beyond precedent had the hon. Baronet made a private representation to him on the subject. He submitted, therefore, that he was not being treated quite fairly in this matter. The hon. Member for Mid. Glamorgan had suggested that by administration as to buildings the Board could do a very great deal in the event of default to enforce the condition of a certain type of school throughout the country, and the hon. Member had asked whether the Department would support a local authority in its efforts to secure that the managers of voluntary schools should maintain their buildings in the condition prescribed by statute. On that point he replied with a most whole-hearted affirmative. In no case that he knew of had the Board ever refused to support the local education authority where the Board was asked to assist it in carrying out the law. There was no doubt that the Board had consistently endeavoured to enforce the conditions of the law, and it would endeavour to do so. Then as to the ten square feet of floor 108 space for each child in attendance, and the exercise of a power, in case of default, to compel managers to close the schools, he had not this power over the local authorities. All that he could do was to say to the managers that they must turn out a certain number of the children, so that the remaining children would be provided for on the basis of ten feet square floor space. But he had no power to make managers alter their buildings if the buildings were otherwise suitable. The Department could not say that the managers must-build in order to find accommodation, and. if they were to say that all the excess number of children were to be turned out of every school in which the floor space was less than ton feet Square per child, there would be hundreds of thousands of children turned into the streets. The necessary school accommodation over the whole country could not be provided under two to three years, and this arbitrary act compelling schools to be built would be regarded by the local education authority as so unfair upon them, and so disliked by the electors, that, whatever the desire of the Government might be, the resistance to the Government would be so great that no Government would ever enforce the law.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
thought it would be found that Parliament had placed it in the power of the Department to compel local authorities.
§ MR. McKENNA
said the Government had power in their hands to force a local authority to do a particular thing, but when that took a great deal of time and cost a great deal of money— as the Government of the right hon. Gentleman found—the Government were very cautious how they proceeded. He did not for a moment dissent from that view. He realised, and the House realised, that they had made the local education authority responsible for the administration of the Education Act; and, unless there was a very strong case, he did not think they would be well advised in interfering unnecessarily with their discretion. The great local education authorities ought to be respected and had to be respected. They represented, in the case of London, some millions of people, and it would be a very difficult task to endeavour to coerce them into spending, suddenly and at once, 109 perhaps a million of money in providing accommodation for children who would be turned out of school if the ten square feet rule were at once ordered to be adopted in every case. But by what they had done in this year's Code, they had taken the first step towards enforcing that rule, and they meant to put pressure upon every local authority to bring their school buildings up to the standard— he did not mean directly—that after a given date, say six months, this extra accommodation should be provided by all local authorities for all children; they had taken the first step to enforce the rule. They should do so with discretion and should have regard to the great burdens on the local ratepayers, because they recognised the great difficulties under which the local authorities acted in persuading the electors to consent to pay the education rate. Then he was asked whether he could not enforce Section 18 of the Code, where the majority of the managers were not representative of the local education authority, by refusing the annual grant. He did not think he could do that. He would be acting illegally if he did so. The managers in the case of the voluntary schools were appointed under statute, and he would be acting in contradiction of the spirit and letter of the statute if by any action through the Code he endeavoured to override the Act and compel the trustees to submit to the majority of the managers being appointed by the local education authority. He was invited by the hon. Member for Rochdale to take his courage in both hands and to insist upon closing schools if the condition of the buildings was not satisfactory. He made no concealment of his policy in this matter. He endeavoured in every case and by every means in his power to ensure that the buildings should be brought into a satisfactory condition. That he believed was the only possible policy, but he did not go the length of refusing a grant to the school. If the local authority asked him to have patience and assured him that they had reason to hope that the condition of the schools which the local authority would build in course of time would be satisfactory, he must have patience. If he failed to have patience, the only effect would be that the local education authority would refuse to build at all. No doubt he could proceed by mandamus against the local authority, but in the first place 110 that would, if resisted, take a very considerable time to obtain, and when he had got it he would have to begin to build the school, and, in the meantime, for a period of some years, the whole educational condition of the town would be one of chaos. He was not prepared to take that course. He was bound to proceed with a view to the interests and the welfare of the children. He could not agree to act in that drastic way, which would only end in turning the children out into the street. He had to co-operate with the local education authority.
§ MR. HARVEY
asked the right hon. Gentleman what he would do in the case of a school which had been absolutely condemned by the local inspector four years ago and nothing had been attempted to be done.
§ MR. McKENNA
said it was always easy to act in gross cases, and that in such a case he should have no hesitation in acting on the view of his hon. friend. But the case he was dealing with was a different one. He was asked, deliberately, by administrative act, to close a voluntary school in every case in which it did not come up to the full requirements of the Act of Parliament. He submitted that, however desirable it might be in the interests of the children that it should be brought up to the full standard required, they were bound in the interests of the children to proceed slowly. At the same time, he assured his hon. friend that he exercised all the pressure he could on the local education authorities to induce them to bring their schools up to the standard. A survey was now being made of all the schools. He had no further questions before him to answer, but he would have another opportunity to reply to others that might be put to him. In conclusion, he assured hon. gentlemen opposite that his regulation had not been framed in any spirit of hostility or warfare to them; and he could also assure his friends behind him that he was endeavouring to the utmost of his power, through the local education authorities, to secure full conformity with the rules.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said he had already spoken and he only rose for the purpose of discussing shortly two or three 111 points raised by the right hon. Gentleman in the series of replies which he had made to criticisms which had been passed, and he wished to ask whether those replies were to be taken as his statement of the education policy of the Government. If so, he ventured to think that it was much more meagre than his predecessors in office had been accustomed to give to the House. The right hon. Gentleman had not given them any satisfactory account of the substantive policy of the Government; he had simply contented himself with dealing with some of the comments on his policy. He could not understand why the right hon. Gentleman had not made a statement of his policy like his predecessors, unless it was that he was not prepared, and ex hypothesi had not the materials for it. After the replies which they had heard, did the right hon. Gentleman intend to make another statement? It was a new view of Parliamentary procedure that the circulation by a Minister of a small printed statement of the lines which he intended to pursue should be regarded as a complete and satisfactory substitute for the usual Parliamentary discussion in Committee, with the Minister in charge. If the right hon. Gentleman thought that the new departure was a good departure, then, after all, it was for him and the majority to decide whether that new departure should be adopted.
§ MR. McKENNA
said his impression was that the practice which the right hon. Gentleman called a new departure was followed by all the Departments, with the exception of the War Office and the Admiralty, which had several days for the consideration of their Estimates. All the others had but one day, and therefore they adopted this practice in order not to take up the time of the House.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
did not think the statement of the right hon. Gentleman was accurate in regard to other Departments; but certainly it was quite inaccurate in regard to the Education Department. However, he did not wish to pursue the point, and it was a matter which the right hon. Gentleman could settle between himself and the majority. He came now to the reply which the right hon. Gentleman had made, and in the first place he wished to congratulate him on the excellent and sound doctrine which he had 112 laid down as to the amicable relations which should exist between the Board of Education and the local authorites. But he doubted whether the colleagues of the right hon. Gentleman would agree with that doctrine. Before he made his statement had the right hon. Gentleman consulted with the Minister in charge of the English Agricultural Holdings Bill? That Bill, by the avowal of the Minister who had drawn it up, was intended to coerce local authorities which did not carry out the policy which the Bill contained. That was the essence of the Agricultural Holdings Bill. ["No."] He thought the matter was put accurately in more sporting phraseology by the Under-.Secretary for the Colonies that "ginger" was to be applied to them. In regard to the question of training colleges and hostels, what was the defence? The right hon. Gentleman was laying down regulations which might and very likely would convert a training college which was created by denominational funds, into an institution the whole denominational character of which would be destroyed by the fact that those who belonged to the denomination would be excluded from it, and those who differed from that denomination would be included. That was the policy which the right hon. Gentleman was deliberately pursuing. It was an unjust policy, and one which it was impossible to defend on principles of justice or religious toleration, and he did not believe that the right hon. Gentleman would find it possible consistently to carry it out. Then the right hon. Gentleman had gone on to tell them that if they allowed denominational hostels they were practically giving public funds to denominational purposes. Had the right hon. Gentleman forgotten the policy clearly laid down by his predecessor in office, the present Chief Secretary for Ireland, who had left the office of President of the Board of Education only some three or four mouths ago? The present Chief Secretary for Ireland had been absolutely explicit on this point, for he, rightly in his judgment, desired to encourage these hostels in connection with training colleges which were to be undenominational in their complexion, but he rightly held that corporate life with or without some denominational element ought to be added to the training colleges; and, if 113 the right hon. Gentleman's words meant Anything, they meant that equal treatment should be dealt out to these hostels whether they had a denominational element or whether they had not. That was the Chief Secretary's policy, and that policy had been abandoned by the President of the Board of Education, who had given no defence whatever for the abandonment. The third and the only other point to which he wished to refer was the attitude which the right hon. Gentleman had taken up in regard to the constitutional issue which he had raised two and a half hours ago. The point could be very shortly stated in this way. The Government found in force a section of an Act of Parliament from which they dissented. They did not propose to repeal the section, which would mean the introduction of a Bill, but they overrode it by voting money on the Estimates, which were embodied in the Appropriation Bill. Such a course was unprecedented and absolutely unconstitutional. The other day the House induced the Government in the case of the Army Bill to refuse to allow money to be given for military training in public elementary schools. If the Bill passed in that shape, any Government which took a different view had only to follow the precedent set by the Minister for Education by voting money on the Estimates, and the deliberate intention of the House, embodied in an Act of Parliament, would be defeated by what was nothing more nor less than a Ministerial fiat. He had no rooted objection, if the House desired to see a subvention of local authorities to aid in building schools, provided that subvention was used impartially between all schools, nor had he any objection to aid the local authority; but that carried with it a corresponding grant to Irish and Scottish education, and he presumed that the Scottish and Irish ratepayers would see that a corresponding grant was given to them. But at present nothing had been heard of it. While he did not object in principle to this aid being given to local authorities, he did ask the House seriously to consider whether it would be wise to start a new procedure which could be used in many directions, and whether it would not be wise even at some sacrifice to insist that the Government; should remain in those well-worn and well - beaten paths of legislative 114 tradition which were the only security, as far as he could see, for the will of that House and of Parliament being carried out. Let not the right hon. Gentleman suppose that he had uttered one word which diminished the objection on constitutional grounds to the action he had taken. He protested against that action, which had started a procedure which other authorities and other Governments must follow; a new weapon would be placed in the hands of the executive.
§ MR. McKENNA
said it was not the power of this House that was in question. It was the power of the other House.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said the right hon. Gentleman had long been a distinguished Member of the House, and was aware of the distinction that nominal legislative action taken through a vote in Supply was embodied in a Bill that was not discussed, and removed from the House one of its privileges. He regretted on the broadest ground what the right hon. Gentleman was doing; each Party in turn, as the pendulum of power swung from one side to the other, would regret it because the right hon. Gentleman's successors would, from the nature of the case, be compelled to use the weapon he had thus rashly forged.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
called attention to the supply of teachers for elementary schools. Nobody would deny that the supply was inadequate in number and inefficient in quality. The importance of the position held by a head teacher or a head mistress was admitted, but he regretted that the supply of teachers for elementary schools was far from satisfactory. According to the Report recently issued by the Board of Education, 13,500 new teachers would be required in the elementary schools in the year 1909, and in order to produce that number, 20,500 boys and girls should be introduced into the earlier stages of the profession in the year 1906. But the actual number entered that year was 10,900, which justified the statement in the Report that the prospect was an alarming one. But that was not all. Year by year there was an ever growing army of unqualified teachers being introduced into the schools. The total number of adult teachers in the 115 elementary schools was about 136,000, and 20,000 of them were unqualified, a fact which gave the gravest disquietude to those engaged in the elementary schools of the country. The material of those entering as pupil-teachers was not altogether satisfactory, and that was shown by the extraordinary wastage in the ranks of the pupil-teachers. During the period of pupil-teacher-ship and time of examination 35 percent. either dropped out or were rejected. These facts emphasised the conclusion that the training of pupil-teachers should be a national service, the cost being defrayed out of the national exchequer. At present it was a duty imposed upon the local education authority, but he submitted they were not the proper authority to discharge it. The present system led to endless friction. One authority spent money in training teachers, and another authority attempted to take them away by offering larger salaries. Persons intended for teachers in elementary and secondary schools ought to be trained together if possible in connection with a university, so that they might enjoy the great advantage of association with those who intended to follow other professions. The gulf between the elementary and secondary teacher ought to be bridged over. The elementary, school teacher ought to pass freely into the secondary schools, and inspectors ought to be appointed from the ranks of elementary teachers. Teaching in elementary schools should be made more attractive. At present there was not an adequate supply of boys for training, and it looked as if elementary teaching would become the monopoly of women, a thing to be deprecated in the interest of teaching in the higher standards. In Prussia there was an ample supply of men teachers, and he attributed that to the absence of any barrier, and any elementary teacher could aspire to the highest position in the teaching profession. So it should be in this country.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD
referred to the regulations issued by the Department as having taken the House by surprise, and he very much regretted that the President had raised the religious question in relation to secondary education. Those regulations would not raise the standard of secondary education. With regard 116 to what had been said about the last occasion when this subject was discussed, the date was 15th of May, and it was late in the evening. He was informed that upon that occasion there were not fifty Members in the House. He wanted to know, in common with other Members, by what authority the right hon. Gentleman proposed these extraordinary changes. He thought if the right hon. Gentleman intended to proceed in this way, he would create a narrowing bureaucratic control with more centralization than ever. When they came to the question of reversing the policy of the late Government, the right hon. Gentleman must be aware that it would be very easy for other Governments to follow his example. He wanted to know the meaning of the words "for the present" in the preamble. Were these changes to take place every year or were they only experimental? He protested also against the right hon. Gentleman bringing in the religious difficulty in connection with secondary education. For many years those interested in secondary education had carefully and successfully avoided the religious difficulty. He heard the right hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary for the Colonies describe himself recently as a controversial politician. He ventured to say that the President of the Board of Education had shown himself a more controversial politician than his right hon. friend. He seemed to have gone out of his way to drag the tail of his coat, along the floor of the House, and to invite his friends to tread upon it. In many places with which he himself was acquainted the exemption from fees in connection with the secondary schools would not benefit the poorer scholars. It would benefit the sons of men living in a district who would be sent to an elementary school in order to qualify for the cheap education to be obtained at the secondary or grammar schools. The parents of these scholars would pay the charges for railway fares while their children were attending the schools in order that they might get the benefit of the grammar schools. Those connected with secondary education had always tried to raise its standard, but he believed the regulations, produced as he thought unconstitutionally, could not have that 117 effect. Were the governors of a school appointed by a parish council or a parish meeting likely to assist in attaining a high standard in secondary education? What was wanted was more money for the secondary schools, so that the best scholars should be sent from the elementary schools, and not 25 per cent., some of whom might be good workmen, but who certainly would make very poor clerks. He did not think the regulations would do any good to secondary education. He regretted that the right hon. Gentleman had dragged in the House of Lords in connection with this controversy. He could not possibly know how the House of Lords would treat a Bill brought in by himself? The right hon. Gentleman had failed, up to the present time, to give any reason why a Bill had not been brought in to do what he now proposed to do by regulations. The regulations had not even been laid upon the Table of the House. At the appointed time the Minister of Education might send a letter to a secondary school, saying that if within fourteen days the governors did not accept one or other of the terms the school would be dealt with according to the regulations. He could see perfectly well that there would be consternation among the secondary schools, and among Members of that House who professed the Roman Catholic faith. What was now proposed was a gross interference with the Roman Catholic schools, but not more than was the case with the Church of England schools. They felt that they had been hardly dealt with, and that they were being made to suffer in a way which they would not have expected in connection with secondary education.
§ MR MASTERMAN (West Ham, N.)
said he did not propose to follow hon. Members who had dealt with the question of the new regulations. He did not underestimate the seriousness of that matter, but he thought they had had a full discussion of it on both sides. He held strong opinions on some of those regulations, but he did not wish at present to press them upon the Committee. He desired to bring before the President of the Board of Education one or two vital questions affecting something that was almost lost sight of in 118 education debates, namely, the welfare of the children. The first question was with reference to the administration of the Act passed last autumn as to the provision of meals for school children. It would be altogether out of order and entirely irrelevant to discuss the provisions of the Act. What he was concerned with at present was its administration, but he might be allowed to say that the form of the Act made some difficulty in that matter. The Act was not mandatory, and it provided no Imperial money for the work. It represented one of the attempts, all too common, to carry out a great social reform at somebody else's expense if possible, and failing that, with as little expenditure of public money as possible. Although some hon. Members recognised when the Bill was passing that the absence of such provisions would make it extremely difficult to carry out, they were kept silent by the assertion that if they attempted to obtain modifications in these matters the whole Bill would be dropped. That was the usual method of getting rid of any Amendment which happened to be tedious or difficult. The intention of the House was that in future, after the Bill came into operation, no child who needed nourishment should go underfed while attending a public elementary school, and various arrangements were made whereby the sordid, neglectful, or drunken parent should be punished later on if his neglect or drunkenness was proved. The Board of Education issued regulations in January last in connection with the carrying out of the Act. The comparative failure of the Act—for it had been a comparative failure—was largely due to the manner it which it was brought before the attention of local authorities. The reply of the President of the Board of Education would probably be that the Act had only been in operation for a short time, but unless the right hon. Gentleman took more active steps than he had done so far it would continue to be a failure. Few local towns had asked to use the rating power in the matter, and London, where by far the greater number of necessitous children were to be found, had not said anything about the Act. The ratepayers of West Ham had been offered facilities for being 119 allowed to pay for the feeding of poor children, a privilege which they possessed before the Act was passed. The circular issued by the Board of Education contained the following—The Board will consider the circumstances of the case and the extent of the emergency which has to be met, and will also require to know what sum the authority consider to be necessary to meet so much of the cost of the provision of food for a stated period as cannot be paid for in any other manner, together with the grounds for that view. The Board do not propose to give any permanent sanction or even one extending over a period of years. They will deal in each case with the particular emergency and then sanction will, as a rule, be limited to the raising of a definite sum from the Votes.Parliament very definitely declared that arrangements were to be made to provide food for necessitous children, and there was nothing in the Act in regard to special circumstances and emergencies. He was sure that hon. Members went away for their Christmas holidays buoyed up with the pleasant thought that under the Act it would be the duty of the President, of the Board of Education to see that every single child attending the schools in future was in a fit condition to receive education. Therefore, he thought it right to ask the President of the Board of Education, even if he could not promise anything in the nature of a monetary grant, to see that a circular was issued more compatible with the desire of Parliament in the matter, and urging local authorities to see that the Act was fully carried out even if it should mean the full expenditure of the ½d. rate allowed by the Act. He wanted to know also what policy was to be followed concerning the administration of the grants to what were called necessitous areas, one of which he was in the fortunate or the unfortunate position of representing. North-West Ham was one of the most flagrant examples of a necessitous area. For two years the Board had given a certain grant towards those authorities which had a high education rate. Over 6d. in the £ a certain proportion of the rate was paid by the central authority. There was no kind of promise made, so far as he knew, by which this grant should be put upon a permanent basis. He did not think the grant was sufficient in its present form, though he agreed that some of the 120 necessitous districts would be absolutely unable to carry on the work of education if they did not get that grant, but he did not think it was a satisfactory solution of the tremendous variation in the incidence of the education rate. He would tell the right hon. Gentleman of one unfortunate effect of his action in the matter, which he should be very glad if he could see any means of rectifying. When the local authorities of East London explained to the right hon. Gentleman the impossibility of carrying on the work of education without some such grant in districts such as they came from, having more poor children than any other district, having a lower rateable value, and having, as new districts without voluntary schools, the greater necessity for expenditure upon building new schools, he repeated practically the advice his predecessor had given; he stated that he would give the grant his predecessor had given, but he very strongly urged, as his predecessor had urged, the representatives of those local authorities to exercise every kind of economy they could in the matter themselves, and he practically established the position that the continuance of that grant depended upon the enforcement of a rigid economy. Filled with a kind of panic at any suggestion of losing the grant, the City Fathers of West Ham proceeded to carry out the advice which they had received from so high an authority, and not being able to make a reduction in their schools or the building of new schools, because the schools were forced upon them by the Board of Education, for which they afterwards had to pay, they set themselves to cut down the scale of salaries of their teachers, and the result was that, a large section of the teachers had now gone on strike, and the town hall was weekly turned into the position of a bear garden. They were fighting the best organised and strongest of the trade unions in the country, and he thought the least the President of the Board of Education could do in the matter, if he would not agree to bear the expense of both sides in this unhappy warfare, was to make an offer to arbitrate between the contending parties and try to put an end to a dispute which, however humorously it might be regarded from outside, was doing 121 infinite harm to the cause of education in one of the most necessitous boroughs in the country. He asked, apart from this dispute, whether the right hon. Gentleman could not give some kind of indication as to his future policy with regard to the necessitous districts. The whole of the local and educational administration of all these boroughs was disturbed by the uncertainty in regard to the grant. In his own borough its absence meant a rate of Is. in the £, and he asked them to believe that the few comparatively well-off residents they had were inclined to move out of the borough on account of the fear that next March, or some other time, there might suddenly come an addition to their rates of 1s. in the £ The third question to which ho wanted a reply was in connection with the organisation of a central medical department of the Board of Education. He did not see any provision in the Estimates for the organisation of such a department. The principle of medical inspection was practically unanimously accepted by both parties in the House last July, but if left entirely to the local authority that inspection would in many cases be carried out in a perfunctory manner. He asked the right hon. Gentleman to make a definite declaration that night that he would see that there was an organised department to supervise the work of the local departments, and to co-ordinate the results and in that way establish what he was certain would be received with gratification by representatives of every Party in the House. His last point was in connection with the Code issued that week. The right hon. Gentleman was familiar with the fact that many members had for some years past been pleading for the introduction into the Code of definite moral instruction. It was introduced by the predecessor of the right hon. Gentleman last year, and it stood in the Code this year, but it stood as a voluntary subject, with no syllabus and no indication as to what the central authority really meant by moral instruction. But they wanted it made a compulsory subject, as essential as arithmetic or history in the working of the curriculum; and was it not possible that the right hon. Gentleman might 122 redeem this moral instruction from a certain amount of obloquy owing, as he thought, to the unsatisfactory method in which it was sometimes carried out? Many people now thought moral instruction meant studied aphorisms, such as that honesty was the best policy, which was not always true,—he was applauded from the Front Opposition Bench, so he thought he must be right—or discussions upon the effect of alcohol upon the human heart. That kind of arid moral aphorisms would make the children hate the idea of such a lesson, but there could be organised, through history and biography, and the daily course of events in the life of the child, a moral instruction which would also include civic instruction in the love of one's country, and the appreciation of duty, which would have none of the defects which were at present associated with the teaching of morals through religion in our schools, and which, if it ever came to pass, and it might not; be so very far distant when religious instruction was no longer paid for in their schools, and when a certain number of children would not receive religious instruction, would at least guarantee that they received some kind of idealistic teaching beyond that of needlework, handwriting, and arithmetic. He had often apologised in that House for the time he had occupied in these interminable religious wrangles, but he made no apology for the time he had occupied that evening on the question. If the right hon. Gentleman could give them children in their schools well nourished, free from the obvious physical defects which could be cured by medical inspection, clean in body and mind, they would take very good care to look after the religion, quite apart from State action altogether. These were the questions which were the kernel of all social reforms—the hope, the security, and the defence of the nation.
§ LORD EDMUND TALBOT (Sussex, Chichester)
said he rose because the right hon. Gentleman opposite had endeavoured to make light of the remarks made by the hon. Member for Kerry and the hon. Member for Clare when they said that their co-religionists, and his, in this country, would look upon these 123 regulations with regard to training colleges and secondary education as a declaration of war. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that if he thought the Catholics were going to accept these regulations in anything like a quiet manner he was very much mistaken. They resented very much the conduct of the Government in having brought them forward with so little notice. Notwithstanding what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman with reference to his speech in May last, they considered that they ought to have had more time to consider the regulations. The Government themselves chose that day for the Education Vote. It was only about the middle of last week that they issued the regulations for the secondary schools. The Code was issued, he thought, last Friday, and these new regulations for training colleges only appeared on the pink Paper that morning. They considered that in taking that hurried course the Government were attempting to shirk discussion on the question, and he wished to warn the right hon. Gentleman that at any rate his co-religionists in this country felt very deeply and very acutely the action he had taken. Notwithstanding the extremely short time that the regulations had been made known to the country, he had already received many letters, especially from the North, calling his attention in tones of dismay to what they meant. This was not a matter affecting the rich. The Catholics were divided in political matters, but they were absolutely united as one man on the question of the education of the children of the poor. If these regulations were carried out, it would be the death blow of the Catholic teachers of the children of the poor. They did not intend that they should be deprived of Catholic teachers for their Catholic poor, and he warned the right hon. Gentleman of the nature of the struggle upon which he was embarking.
§ *MR. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)
referred to the appeal of the hon. Member for West Ham. He thought that if the right hon. Gentleman found it in his power or in his heart to attempt to bring the parties in the dispute 124 referred to together round a table, that might be a useful piece of work on his part, and a friendly act indeed. The hon. Member for West Ham had also appealed to the President of the Board of Education to add another subject to the time table of the public elementary schools and to see that moral instruction of a certain kind was made obligatory.
And, it being a quarter-past Eight of the clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means under Standing Order No. 8, further Proceeding was postponed without Question put.